For the past decade, Major League Baseball has been under constant criticism regarding steroid abuse and the league's handling of performance-enhancing drugs. Countless athletes, from minor league no-namers to the giants of the game such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, have tainted the image not only of themselves, but of the league as a whole.
However, the biggest travesty is not the fact that the players are cheating. It is instead how the league has subsequently handled the abuse. Not only has government involvement been ineffective, but so has the league's testing and punishment program.
Perhaps the biggest shock of all regarding steroid abuse came this past January, when 2011 National League MVP Ryan Braun was revealed to have failed a drug test sometime in October of that year. Braun, arguably one of the most respected players throughout baseball, has insisted that he is innocent and has never used performance-enhancing drugs.
According to the report regarding the arbitrators' decision to repeal the suspension, the individual that performed the test kept the sample in his basement for the weekend before sending it for further testing. However, the report goes on to state that the same instance had happened with previous tests. So what makes Braun so special that his suspension was overturned?
Although Braun's failed steroid test was a disaster for the league, his suspension repeal is even more devastating. This was by far the league's best opportunity to show fans (and opponents) that it is handling the steroid situation in a fair and aggressive manner.
Sources have said that the league is "livid" over the decision to overturn Braun's suspension and are considering filing a lawsuit over the decision. However, the fact that MLB needs to again turn to legal actions instead of handling the situation itself is even more embarrassing.
One can only hope that Braun really is innocent. Regardless, the fact that one of the most recognizable and shocking violators of its drug policy could be getting off scot-free could turn many fans away from the game for good.