It was a pre-cursor for the anticipated David Ortiz press conference held at Yankee Stadium as he spoke publically for the first time about his name surfacing in association with a positive test result.
During the press conference, Ortiz played the supplements card, but a little differently than were are attuned to hearing. Most players’ say they have no idea what was in the supplements they were taking, yet Ortiz admitted he purchased legal supplements which triggered him to be in the company of names such as Jason Grimsley, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and David Segui.
"I consider myself one of those guys who were definitely a little bit careless back in the days when I was buying supplements—legal supplements—over the counter," said Ortiz.
The issue Ortiz raises of then-legal supplements creates a large problem for those attempting to sort through the perceived “cheaters” of the game as opposed to those who were added to the list based on legal nutritional supplements.
The statement from Michael Wiener, the soon-to-be executive director of the player’s union, took a clear and direct path at attacking the credibility of the ’03 results, saying, "Substantial scientific questions exist as to the interpretation of some of the 2003 test results.”
According to Major League Baseball, there are also discrepancies between the government list from ’03, which as 104 names, and the league program, which maintains that there were only 96 positive tests.
Baseball contests that there are a plethora of legal nutritional supplements that may even drop the number of positive tests even lower.
"The Players Association made clear in its public statement today that there are substantial uncertainties and ambiguity surrounding the list of 104 names from the 2003 survey test. Indeed, there is even uncertainty about the number of players on this 2003 government list, whether it is 104, 96, 83, or less.”
This casts a huge shadow of uncertainty around the conclusions arrived upon from the results of the tests. The possible ramifications to not only the player’s legacy, but also the integrity of the league, are hinged around questionable data and a yet-to-be-found source that is exposing the player’s names methodically.
These names could be misconstrued and inaccurate in a couple of ways. First, we have to see exactly how the testing was done to understand the possible fallacies of the results that we are being fed.
Contrary to what many believe, the testing was actually completed in two phases, which was done in an attempt to account for the large amounts of supplements being consumed by active players in ’03.
The first test occurred randomly and unannounced, followed approximately a week later by a second test in which the players were given advanced warning to stop taking supplements before the test.
This means that a positive result on the initial test could have been ignored due to the results of the second test. This also means that the same player could have tested positive more than once, which would seriously alter the number of players on the list as opposed to the number of positive tests total.
Wiener seemed to hang his hat on the on the figure of 83, and it was the first time the player's union has combated the results of the tests in the public sphere.
For this reason, Wiener raises doubts about the validity of the names that have already been leaked from the list.
“The presence of a player's name on any such list does not necessarily mean that the player used a prohibited substance or that the player tested positive under our collectively bargained program,” argues Wiener.
The tests conducted in ’03 were also done by a different agency than the one that currently conducts player testing and Wiener has called into question whether or not we can trust these results.
In addition to the scientific merit of the test and its interpretations, there is a more serious problem hanging in the balance that Wiener addressed in his statement.
The federal government is currently in control of the test results but someone is still leaking the names from the list. If the government has possession of the names as part of an on-going investigation then there should be no way the names get funneled to the media and public.
The release of names thus far has violated the confidentiality agreement of the courts.
However, those who have been labeled as “cheaters” are being held down by that same confidentiality agreement because they are not allowed to see information about exactly for what they tested positive.
The same confidentiality that was promised to players when they agreed to the ’03 testing is now preventing the players from accessing information about the results that would possibly clear their names.
That means that Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, or any other player named cannot access what the details of the positive result encapsulated.
Maybe they tested positive in the first random test, but not the second supplement-be-ware test. Maybe they tested positive for both. Maybe they tested positive for steroids, and not supplements at all.
The whole situation is mired in uncertainty and now the players are being exploited for the results of this test. Someone with access to the government list is profiting from the leakage of superstar names and violating a court order in the process.
While I don’t agree with the these previous mishandling of the situation by the league and player’s association, I do think the premise of pursuing the person who is slowly revealing these names is the correct thing to do.
The only way to prevent further damaging information from going public is to expose the parties responsible and put an end to this ridiculous media circus that occurs every time a name is released.
Whether or not you then want to release the names all at once or destroy them once and for all is another issue, but for the time being someone needs to put an end to the damaging cycle of tabloid-type media that has entered the game of baseball.
Information from MLB.com was used for this article