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April 10, 2004
Feds Throw MLB A Curveball, Union Whiffs

IRS agents raided a drug-testing lab on Thursday where results and samples of steroid tests performed on major-league baseball players were being held:

Federal authorities probing an alleged steroid distribution ring have seized the results and samples of drug tests on selected major league baseball players from a drug-testing lab, a spokesman for the lab said Friday. Internal Revenue Service agents served a search warrant to obtain "documentation and specimens" from a Quest Diagnostics lab in Las Vegas, Quest spokesman Gary Samuels said.

Samuels would not say whether IRS agents took the drug-test results or specimen of Barry Bonds, but said the agents took materials consistent with a federal subpoena that had sought test results and specimens from the San Francisco Giants' slugger and fewer than a dozen other players. Among them were New York Yankees Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi.

The raid occurred Thursday, shortly after the Major League Baseball Players Association filed a motion in a San Francisco court seeking to squash that subpoena.

The federal grand jury has already issued several indictments in the case of a group that created a new performance-enhancing compound designed specifically to elude tests by sports leagues. After having come across the information almost accidentally, the grand jury was convened, and as part of their investigation, they subpoenaed the test results and samples. The MLB Players' Association objected, arguing that under the terms of their labor agreement, those results were to remain secret.

Apparently, the MLBPA struck out.

Now, the question will be if the players tested will eventually be named and their results made public. It promises to create an embarassement for MLB, but one that both owners and players have brought upon themselves. For several years now, we have seen athletes bulk up beyond recognition, cracking home runs at a rate not seen at any time in the sport. Despite the obvious influence of performance-enhancing chemicals in the game, the MLBPA has steadfastly refused to allow anything resembling a credible testing program -- which exists in most other major sports -- giving the impression that it knows some athletes have a lot to hide.

Now that they have been tied into a criminal investigation, the MLBPA may want to rethink their position. If the clean players can't stand up for themselves and force a change in the system, then perhaps there aren't enough clean players in the game anymore. What does that say about the national pastime?

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 10, 2004 4:54 PM

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