3rd November 2009
Regardless of whether you think drug policies in sports work (personally, I find them window dressing if you want to know the truth), the battle that has come out of the “StarCaps” case is setting up an interesting take on whether State law can override league drug policies.
The cribs notes version is this:
The NFL tried to suspend Pat Williams and Kevin Williams of the Minnesota Vikings, as well as Saints’ Charles Grant and Will Smith and former Saint Deuce McAllister for four games after coming up positive for Bumetanide. For those that don’t follow the PED subculture (and can I really blame you for not), the substance is a diuretic that is often times used to mask steroids. The Bumetanide is within a product called StarCaps, and it’s here that things get interesting.
You’ll noticed I said the NFL”tried” to suspend the players, but the players (and the NFLPA) are saying that they were unaware that StarCaps had banned substances within them, and used Minnesota State law to get the suspensions overturned saying that the NFL didn’t inform them.
Stay with me here…
Today, Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith on the NFL/NFLPA side of things, were joined by Rob Manfred and Michael Weiner on the MLB/MLBPA side. Throw in a dose of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), and you have one big “stay out of our drug policy” party.
“If these rulings prevail, they could wreak havoc with policies designed to curb performance-enhancing drug use in professional sports,” Rep. Henry Waxman, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said at a subcommittee hearing. “In fact, if the rulings are taken to their logical conclusion, players on one team could be allowed to use drugs that would subject players on another team to suspensions and fines.”
“In short,” he added, “these new legal interpretations could render the NFL and Major League Baseball drug testing programs unenforceable, loophole-ridden, and unacceptably weak and ineffective.”
“One thing is clear: we should not allow the drug policies that the NFL, Major League Baseball, and other sports leagues have put in place to be rendered null and void. That is an invitation to steroid abuse in professional sports. And it will inevitably lead to more steroid use on high school football fields and baseball diamonds.”
Well, Waxman forgot to add that it’s the salaries that the players are making that is a large part of the temptation for players to use PEDs. And, as I’ll get to in a later column on The Biz of Football, if you believe the notion that the drug policies in the NFL, MLB, and others sports leagues are designed as some barrier to prevent players from cheating, I’ll give you something to consider: “off-season testing”. Look up the NFL or MLB policy, and then watch players as their seasons begin. “Maintaining” a Juiced up physique is a lot easier than you think.