I spent a lot of time this week talking to people in and around the industry about steroids, which for a baseball beat writer is never a pleasant topic. I was curious about the notion of attaching an “asterisk” or some sort of disclaimer to the statistics of admitted/proven PED users.
Commissioner Bud Selig declined a request to chat on the record about it, but the message I got from other folks in the know is that MLB has no plans to use asterisks. Basically, it seems the higher-ups want the entire steroids issue to simply go away.
After Mark McGwire’s recent televised confession of PED use, Selig issued a statement which in part read: “The use of steroids and amphetamines amongst todays players has greatly subsided and is virtually non-existent as our testing results have shown. The so-called ‘steroid era’ … is clearly a thing of the past.”
Former commissioner Fay Vincent laughed out loud when I mentioned Selig’s comment. Vincent termed it “a rather silly announcement that makes no sense.”
Vincent was Selig’s immediate predecessor. Vincent got the job in 1989, after Bart Giamatti’s sudden death, and resigned in 1992 after a no-confidence vote by the owners. A year before he stepped down, Vincent placed steroids on MLB’s list of banned substances — but, not realizing at the time how big a problem PEDs had become, he did not press for a drug-testing program.
Baseball’s current testing setup is a step forward, but Vincent does not believe it will end the scourge of steroids.
“I have a cynical view of human nature,” Vincent said. “I think there will be continued cheating in all sports. I don’t think we are going to stop the chemists from coming up with things to give to players. Young people are going to be tempted by all the money and take these drugs and the problem goes on.”
For more on Vincent’s opinion about steroids and the asterisk — including his thoughts on whether Barry Bonds used PEDs — check out Sunday’s Trib.