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A-Rod Could Be Asked to Speak Before Congress. Fay Vincent Speaks Out PDF Print E-mail
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Performance-Enhancing Drugs (PEDs)
Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 10 February 2009 10:38

A-Rod on ESPN

Alex Rodriguez may be called to testify before Congress.

As the baseball world took stock of Alex Rodriguez admission that he used steroids from 2001-2003, it opened the door to far closer scrutiny by those on Capitol Hill.

In a phone interview with Newsday, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said that he would call for A-Rod to testify about his steroid use, opening the door to questions under oath as to whether he used steroids beyond the time period he confesses to, along with the possibility that he may be asked about where he obtained the PEDs.

"I think we're going to have to see what Rodriguez will tell us," Cummings said in [the] phone interview.

"He is in a confessing mode, so maybe he needs to put his apology into some meaningful action by cooperating with the committee so we can see if there are things we need to reopen to make sure baseball is doing all that it can to rid itself of this kind of practice."

Cummings viewed Rodriguez’s admission as disturbing in light of his high level of talent to begin with.

"When he says in his admission that he knew he was viewed as a top player making all this money but he needed basically some backup so he can make sure he reached his goals, it sounded like somebody who was trying to catch up with a reputation that had preceded him," Cummings said.

"When I heard that, I could not help but think of the scrawny kid who doesn't have a reputation. What about them? Or the kids that are very talented. They see a Rodriguez who commits a crime - it is illegal to do what he did - and who basically violates policies of the game and gets rich."

In other news...

Former commissioner Fay Vincent filed a column for The Sports News on the whole A-Rod matter, and as he has in the past, said that he views the steroid era a “15-year, 20-year horror story.” What’s interesting is that Vincent says that he’s not surprised by the level of PED use during the “steroid era.”

“I can't say I'm surprised,” Vincent writes. “I think the number of players in the '90s and early 200s who were using drugs must have been very, very high. I have no basis for saying that other than my own suspicion. I remember talking with Bob Costas, who knows as much about baseball as anyone I know. We were guessing 300 or 400 players at any one time. That's a big number.”

It appears Vincent is talking about the late ‘90s. Here’s why. The reason Vincent’s comments are interesting has to do with his comments to me in an interview in 2005 regarding a memo he sent to all the clubs in 1991 regarding the use of steroids in baseball (see the memo here). From the interview:

Maury Brown for The Biz of Baseball: In the Weds., 11/9/2005 issue of ESPN the Magazine is 16-page examination of the spread of steroid use throughout baseball, and how many of those closely involved with the game were involved. Your name surfaced regarding a memo outlining that baseball had a list of banned substances in the memo sent to all MLB teams, and while baseball could not test for steroids, if a player was caught with steroids, he would be sent for treatment and subject to penalties. What comments do you have on this issue being raised?

Fay Vincent: I don’t remember much about the circumstances and I don’t remember who really pushed for it. But, I can speculate that it came out of an awareness that for people who were not in the union – not protected by the Union agreement – that steroids might be a problem. I think that we had become to realize that there were a variety of other compounds floating around that were dangerous. We’d heard rumors about Jose Canseco. I think we thought that steroids and the like were basically a “football problem”, but we did think that they were dangerous. And so for at least coaches and managers and everybody else in baseball we thought we ought to go on record and say that this is bad stuff and we don’t want it getting a toe-hold in baseball.

I wish I remembered more. Obviously, it wasn’t a major thing because I don’t think any of us thought steroids was really a major issue at the time. We were so wrapped up in cocaine problems, so I just don’t remember that much about it.

I’m sure that what the General Managers are saying is correct that nobody paid too much attention to it because it was aimed at people who probably weren’t big steroid users anyway. I mean the clubhouse man, and the coaches would hardly be taking steroids. But that’s all we could do. We couldn’t do anything with the union because the union wouldn’t even give us a hearing on strengthening the cocaine drug problem laws. I mean, I’m glad I did it (sent the memo), I wished we’d done more.

Brown: So, on the contents of the memo, was the subject matter of the document broached to the union at the time, or was this a matter of this is an internal thing sent to the clubs, “Please be aware.”

Vincent: I don’t know the answer to that question. I think it would have been highly unusual to raise it with the union because we knew that there was a contract with them there was no way we could do anything in the middle of the contract. And, I think it was really our attempt to be on record, if this was our universe, if we controlled the whole thing, this is what we would do. And we did it, but we did it only for the people that were not covered by the Collective Bargaining Agreement.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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