Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The year was 2003. Baseball began a ridiculously weak steroid testing policy. The tests were not random; the results were supposed to be anonymous.

The tests were essentially useless. If more than five percent of the players tested positive, an equally weak policy would kick in the next year.

It was pathetic. But now the sport is paying the price.

Alex Rodriguez tested positive. So, apparently, did Sammy Sosa.

No need to re-hash Sosa's career. He was the smiling Cubs' outfielder who hit homers like crazy in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Of course, once baseball was called out for its ridiculous steroid problem, Sosa ended up before Congress and said he didn't speak english well.

So no one should act shocked -- or even that disappointed -- that Sosa cheated. Almost everyone did, apparently. Of the most prolific sluggers from that era, only a pair -- Ken Griffey and Frank Thomas -- have remained unscathed.

Yet even with the news today, baseball still is covering itself. Cubs' manager Lou Piniella said he didn't want to talk about the past -- have we heard that before? Reds' manager Dusty Baker didn't sound all that surprised, though he seemed frustrated he had to answer questions about the issue again. Commissioner Bud Selig said he'd have no comment, then rambled on about the topic with the same old stuff he's been saying on the issue for more than a decade.

Sosa is no surprise. There are no surprises anymore.

But the leaders of MLB still don't seem to get it. They think a strong testing policy now (which still is somewhat in question) answers for the sins of the past. It's a step in the right direction. But more than a decade of betrayal isn't undone by testing. It's undone by new leadership.

When a scandal breaks, the best way to deal with it is to clean up the those the industry. You can't do that with the same people who were there when the problem existed.

Selig still is in power. So is Players Union head Don Fehr.

Until the power is changed, the sport cannot be trusted to police itself.



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