The 2003 Steroid Tests: Is It Time to Release The Entire List?

Dan WadeSenior Analyst IJune 17, 2009

NEW YORK - JUNE 13:  Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees warms up against the New York Mets on June 13, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx Borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

When Alex Rodriguez's name was linked to a 2003 list of players who had tested positive for performance enhancing drugs during the survey testing that season, it sparked a media frenzy that even the Mitchell Report couldn't touch.

There is a reason Selena Roberts didn't write a book about Jason Grimsley, Chuck Knoblauch or any of the others who were named in the report, even though many had hard evidence linking them to steroid or HGH use: The Public doesn't care about non-stars.

Because the Mitchell Report provided a fairly unsatisfying list of players (no Bonds, Sosa, Palmero, Rodriguez, Pujols, Ortiz or Manny), there is a huge incentive to find other documents linking these players and other superstars to the forbidden juice.

Enter the 2003 survey tests.

Every player was tested with the union's word that no names would be released, but that the tests would help investigators ascertain the level of usage in the league.

So to recap: There is a secret list of players who have failed tests, the names intentionally released to weren't interesting enough, but the names leaked off the secret list have made the people who discovered them famous.

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See the problem?

There is a huge incentive for people like Selena Roberts to do whatever it takes to find the bombshell names from that list and publish them. Today's revelation that Sammy Sosa also failed the 2003 test only confirms this notion.

Look, no one is surprised Sosa tested positive and it was only a matter of time before he got caught, but is it fair to players like Rodriguez and Sosa to be singled out and shamed when there are 102 other players on that list as guilty as they are?

There are 750 players on active major league rosters at the beginning of any given season, nearly a seventh of them in 2003 were using a performance enhancer at the time they were tested. Some of those are likely false positives, but it is equally likely that others who used earlier in the season were missed.

On one hand, releasing the list would violate the Union's assurances to their members that their names would not be released.

On the other, keeping a semi-private list of offenders simply begs to be leaked, especially when the two names revealed so far have drawn such attention.

Another press conference and mass release of the names would bring the attention back on the PED issue, which neither the comissioner's office nor the Union wants.

The question they need to ask themselves is this: Assuming they cannot secure the list of failed tests, which it seems they cannot, which method protects players best, naming everyone's name at once, or the seemingly interminable process of one name at a time leaking out.

In the end, both groups are far too arrogant and will believe themselves to be able to either secure the list and patch the leaks or that journalists will simply stop reporting once the names get uninteresting (Juan Rincon, anyone?).

In a way, this is right, even if they are doing it for the wrong reasons. The players, cheaters though they may be, took the test under the impression that their identities would be protected. Even if releasing the data is better in the long run, its still a stab in the back to the players.

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