07/30/09 5:22 PM ET
Saga won't end until '03 list is public
Players who tested positive for PEDs must be revealed
That's the only way this lingering, distasteful, six-year-old saga will ever be put to rest.
I want to know who's on the list, and baseball fans deserve to know. It's that simple. Period.
If not, there will continue to be "leaks" with one or two names surfacing when we least expect it. This could go on for years. So make the list public.
On Thursday, The New York Times on its Web site revealed that David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, teammates on the Boston Red Sox, are among the 104 Major League players who tested positive in 2003.
Five others have been tied to positive tests from that "survey" program, including Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Jason Grimsley and David Segui.
A February firestorm occurred prior to the start of Spring Training when Sports Illustrated broke the story that Rodriguez, arguably baseball's best player, tested positive. A few days later, A-Rod admitted, yes, he was guilty and had used steroids for three years beginning in 2001 while with the Texas Rangers.
So, 97 names remain undisclosed.
The Times stated information about Ramirez and Ortiz was gained from interviews with "multiple lawyers and others connected to the pending litigation. The lawyers spoke anonymously, because the testing information is under seal by a court order."
Aside from the sealed information, the Major League Players Association is the only other organization that has the list. The union was supposed to legally destroy all positive test samples in November 2003 after involved players were notified. But it didn't.
Richard Levin, spokesman for Commissioner Bud Selig, reiterated Thursday that no one within the Commissioner's Office has the list.
"We don't know [who's on the list], because we don't have a copy of it," said Levin.
Anonymous testing with no penalties was initiated in 2003 as part of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The program was adopted to determine how widespread steroid use was. Because positive results exceeded 5 percent, testing with penalties began in 2004 leading to the current policy: 50-game suspension for a first positive test, 100 games for a second and a lifetime ban for a third.
Those test results were supposed to remain secret, but they were seized in April 2004 by federal agents investigating the distribution of performance-enhancing drugs to professional athletes.
Those test results remain the subject of litigation between the players union and the government.
It should be mentioned that Ramirez, now with the Los Angeles Dodgers, just completed a 50-game suspension for violating the policy. That suspension has nothing to do with what he did in 2003. As stated, he cannot be penalized for that.
Players union chief Don Fehr, who has announced his retirement which will take effect next March, has repeatedly said the names will not be released by his office. He stresses the condition of testing in 2003 was total anonymity without penalty.
Fehr has stood firm, even though some Major Leaguers, including Torii Hunter of the Los Angeles Angels and Lance Berkman of the Houston Astros, have called for the total list be made public.
"The problem with this whole sordid mess is now everybody is questioned," Berkman said in Spring Training.
Said Fehr: "Whatever rights individual players had under those agreements have to be respected."
Fehr has insisted within an eight-day period (Nov. 11-19) in 2003 the results were received by the union, players were notified, "but [on Nov. 19] when we learned that the government had issued a subpoena ... it would have been improper to proceed with the destruction of the materials."
If I were a player, I would be crazed that the samples were not destroyed when they were supposed to be. I'd also point out that of all the Major Leaguers tested in 2003, the majority were clean.
The only way doubt can be erased about all the innocents is to release the list. I believe Fehr and the union should use that logic to reverse his thinking and protect the names of the innocent -- those who didn't test positive.
My guess is that the majority of the names among the 97 are lesser-known players, many of whom are no longer in baseball.
After all, this took place six years ago and it's time to turn the page.
The only way closure can be brought to the subject is to no longer hide the names.
Meanwhile, those marvelous World Series championships (2004 and 2007) by the Red Sox are now tainted. As The Times stated, players with those teams have been linked to doping.
And the Hall of Fame will be cheated, too.
I will never vote for a player on my Hall of Fame ballot linked to steroids.
No matter how outstanding that player's career was, I have too much respect for baseball to mark an "X" next to his name on the ballot.
Those cheaters do not belong in Cooperstown.
Hal Bodley is the senior correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.