- Created on Wednesday, 11 February 2009 04:40
- Written by John Romano
Sometime in early 2004, then IRS special agent Jeff Novitzky (he works for the FDA now), entered a diagnostic testing facility in Long Beach, California with a search warrant to confiscate 10 urine samples belonging to clients of BALCO. Novitzky left with not 10, but over 1,200. He took them all! He also took a computer disk which had the positive steroid test results for 104 players. Interestingly, at the time, Barry Bonds was in Novitzky's crosshairs; however, Bonds was not one of the names on the failed drug test list. Nevertheless, when this evidence was presented in court, the judge sealed the results. Those records are still sealed today where they sit in a 9th circuit court.
This past Saturday, the content of those sealed documents was rifled and A-Rod's name fell out and landed on the pages of Sports Illustrated. Sure enough, in 2003, A-rod tested positive for Primobolan and testosterone.
Considering they have a perfectly intact chain of custody for the samples; they were lawfully and properly collected; everything is right, it would have been foolish for A-Rod to do anything like McGwire, Palmeiro, Sheffield, Marion Jones, and the rest did. So, he admitted he took gear. But not really.
A-Rod has the benefit of watching what happened to all of those around him and knows the traditional legal council doesn't work in the BALCO case. It's the wrong thing to do. What we've all learned is that he had to come clean. Even though it wasn't really clean; it was a lot cleaner than those who came before him.
He first appeared on 60 Minutes with Katie Couric and flat-out denied that he took testosterone, growth hormone or steroids. If there's one thing the BALCO case has taught the legal community it's that the standard coaching of your client - where you point a finger and strongly declare "I did not take steroids, not once, never" - doesn't work. So, the next time around, A-rod was very well coached. Everyone else lied and it didn't work. So he decided to tell a partial truth. He admitted to being consumed by the baseball group dynamic; it was part of the culture that everyone was doing. He finished by saying that he never did them again, not since 2003. . . "not really."
According to Victor Conte, "he's been on drugs his entire career!! Any of the things that matter, A-Rod didn't say. And he never took drugs afterward? That's total bullshit! From a PR standpoint, it was the right thing to say, but he still lied. He still has skeletons in his closet. At some point this shit is going to come out; just like what happened to Marion Jones."
The interesting thing is that today more people are interested not in the fact that A-Rod was on juice, but rather how was A-rod's test results leaked? That's the bigger crime here, not the drugs. These were sealed court documents and someone leaked them! Once that happens you can never defend yourself; your case is over. Leaking these documents abrogates every aspect of jurist prudence. That's why doing so is criminal.
So, the question should now become, who did the leaking? Are they going to drag in the reporters from sports illustrated and make them tell who their source was like they did to the two reporters covering the BALCO case for the San Francisco Chronicle, who printed leaked testimony? One can only hope, but in the meantime, it's fun to speculate. Who could be the source of this leak?
A disgruntled teammate? It's possible that A-rod may have had enemies in baseball who wanted to out him for whatever reason. Jose Canseco, in his 2008 book "Vindicated" came right out and said, "Hell, if you ask me, I did everything but inject the guy myself." While that's a damning accusation, it falls far short of violating a confidential order.
Okay, how about MLB? I don't think so. Bud Selig's office has limited knowledge of the test results, and they certainly don't know the specific drugs for which the players tested positive. While I think Selig has too much to lose by ratting out A-Rod, he is still smack in the middle of another drug scandal. Tisk tisk... but violating sealed court documents? Not likely, nor probable.
Not MLB? Then how about the Players association? Donald Fehr and Gene Orza knew who the 104 players were who failed their drug test. But I doubt they leaked the content of a confidential order. Union officials had long resisted any kind of mandatory drug testing. News that the Players Association's biggest star had tested positive for steroids would only increase attention and call for lawmakers to step up baseball's drug testing program.
So, how about the government? Hmmmmm...... let's see. On Thursday, the government got their ass kicked in court. The whole case against Bonds practically collapsed when Judge Illston ordered that former BALCO VP James Valente couldn't testify. Illston also indicated that she won't let the prosecutors introduce some drug tests, documents, and other evidence the prosecution wanted to present when Barry Bonds goes to trial on perjury charges next month. That Saturday, after the government took a major league ass-whooping in the Bonds case, the A-Rod deal was leaked. Kind of makes you go hmmmmm...... it's not like the government hadn't been accused of leaking sealed testimony in the Bonds case before.
So, who's to blame and where is the crime? A-Rod blames his steroid use on the culture. I blame it on the others - those in charge-- Selig, Fehr, and Orza. Why isn't MLB being investigated, not to mention Congress for being so dumb and asking all the wrong questions? Well, none of that is criminal, so it really shouldn't matter.
It is unfortunate that A-rod came up dirty in an announced test. Clearly, it wasn't a drug test it was an IQ test and 7% of the players showed up positive. Okay, so in an announced test when almost 10% of the players get caught; one can easily surmise that baseball players aren't the sharpest tools in the shed. But their actions, especially if they don't lie, are not criminal. In this case the real criminals are not being investigated. Leaking sealed evidence in a federal case is a serious criminal offence. And the reason the attention is being focused on A-Rod is probably because the real criminal here is the government.