Union memo distributed at camps
Players given talking points in regard to 2003 drug testing
PHOENIX -- The Major League Baseball Players Association distributed a memo on Tuesday to the 30 Spring Training camps, giving players talking points in regard to the now controversial 2003 drug testing of Major League players.The memo was distributed around the time that Alex Rodriguez was addressing the media at Yankees camp in Tampa, Fla., about his steroid use from 2001-03. The memo was distributed to counteract media reports that have been "so inaccurate and incomplete as to be completely misleading," it read.
"We had an agreement [with the union] that it's an anonymous test, and obviously, it's not anonymous," said Cleveland left-hander Cliff Lee, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner. "There's still 103 other guys that could be leaked out. Part of me wishes they would just say all of them, and part of me wishes they would destroy it. It was supposed to be anonymous, and that's the way it should be. That's what our union stuff is for."The tests from 2003, the first year that MLB players were randomly tested for the use of a host of performance-enhancing drugs, were supposed to remain anonymous. And when 5 percent to 7 percent, or 104 players, tested positive that season, punitive testing went into effect for 2004. The tests were seized by the federal government after warrants were issued stemming from the investigation into drug trafficking by the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO). That lab was raided in 2003, and before the end of that year, 10 Major Leaguers, including Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield, were subpoenaed to testify in front of a grand jury. Up to now, only two of the 104 names on that list have been revealed: Rodriguez, whose name was leaked to Sports Illustrated and who later admitted that he took the drugs, and Bonds, whose name surfaced when a federal judge in San Francisco unsealed evidence in the perjury case against the former Giants slugger earlier this month. Tuesday's two-sided memo was addressed to all players from the union's executive director, Donald Fehr, and general counsel Michael Weiner. "You have undoubtedly seen the recent news reports concerning our 2003 drug-testing program and the court cases related to it. We write to make sure you are informed about the facts of these matters and the Players Association's positions," it read. Among the questions and talking points given to the players by the union were: "What was the purpose of the 2003 drug testing?" "Why weren't the samples destroyed? Did the MLBPA delay for months?" "Is there a list with names of players?" "How should I respond if I am asked about the 2003 tests?" "Did any MLBPA official improperly tip off players about the 2004 tests?" The answer to that last question begins: "As we have said before, there was no improper tipping of players. Any allegations that Gene Orza or any other MLBPA official acted improperly are wrong." In conclusion, the memo warns, "We would also urge you to be careful in responding to any other questions sparked by the media frenzy surrounding these stories. Much of what has been said or written about the MLBPA is wrong, or is so inaccurate and incomplete as to be completely misleading."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. MLB reporter Matthew Leach contributed. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.