Posted on May 16, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
Major League Baseball is doing more testing for performance-enhancing drugs than it ever has before, and it’s catching its fair share of cheaters, most notably reigning National League batting champion Dee Gordon. But not every player is enthralled with how the league is handling its testing and subsequent punishment of players caught using PEDs. The latest to speak out is Boston Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello.
Porcello, who is off to a strong start this season, has a problem with the appeals process in particular. “I have an absolute problem with them playing under the appeal or due process,” he says, “because you’re taking a guy who has tested positive for something, clearly playing with that advantage at that particular time, and he’s impacting games. The whole idea behind the system is to prevent guys who tested positive have an unfair advantage in a game, then why would they be allowed to play during the appeal process when they clearly have that in their system. To me, that doesn’t make sense.”
The right hander complains that a game or two in April and May can turn out to be the difference between making the postseason and not making the postseason come September, and that players who have tested positive for a banned substance should not be able to make an impact on the season while they await a decision on their appeal. “I don’t think that’s right,” Porcello asserts. “It’s not the same as appealing a suspension for getting thrown out of a game or something like that. We’re talking about two completely different things.”
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Money, Porcello says, is another problem with MLB’s drug-testing policy. As it stands, suspended players lose the money they would have made during the suspension, but it has no impact on contracts they signed before the suspension or prevent them from cashing in after their return. “You’re seeing guys who test positive come out and sign multi-year deals,” Porcello says. “The amount of money you’re putting in front of guys faces, when all they see is dollar signs, they don’t care if they test positive because there will still be an opportunity to turn around and sign a multi-year deal.”
So then does Porcello have any ideas for what the league should do? “They need to come up with something that is pretty substantial. Obviously, a 50-game penalty, or an 80-game penalty, or even a season, just one year, is not deterring guys from doing what they’re doing. It’s got to be pretty stiff. It’s got to be something where you don’t have the opportunity to play at all, or you don’t have the opportunity to play for the same money that the guy is playing and doing it the right way.”
Porcello admits things have improved, but says there’s still an “imbalance” in the league with which he’s not satisfied. “All the hits I’ve given up to guys who have tested positive, I want them all back. It’s not to say that guy wouldn’t get a hit, but he obviously has an advantage and I’m not good with that.” Porcello sounds serious about changing things, and he’s not the only one. After the season, when the collective bargaining agreement expires, we’ll see how serious Commissioner Rob Mandred and the MLB are about implementing stricter penalties for PED users.