I suppose you can’t come to any other conclusion than Rafael Palmeiro is lying. He sat in front of a congressional committee on March 17th, waved his finger and said, “I have never used steroids.” When Major League Baseball suspended him for 10 days last week, he altered that statement adding, “I have never intentionally used steroids.” So he gave himself an out, giving rise to the theory that he took a supplement that had a steroid product in it, unwittingly.
But then it was reported that he tested positive for Winstrol, and that whole theory went out the window. You don’t get Winstrol by accident in your system. It’s either done through a pill or through an injection. Maybe his doctor, not associated with the team gave him the pill to help rehabbing an injury, but that’s not an excuse either.
As a pro athlete in these very sensitive times regarding steroids, if you sat in front of congress and waved your finger, you better know everything that you’re putting in your body.
It’s a real shame too, because Palmeiro was looked on as a sympathetic figure after the congressional hearings. He didn’t look like a steroid guy, so it was plausible that he had been named as a user because of some kind of grudge. But that all goes out the window now. Congress has asked for the documents regarding his failed drug test and if the test was before March 17th, they’re thinking about charging him with perjury, for lying under oath.
Mark McGwire came off poorly during those hearings because he kept protecting himself. Palmeiro, on the other hand, seemed to be the guy baseball was counting on to drag them out of this morass. A bona fide major league hitter with Hall of Fame numbers who didn’t look like he was about to bust out of his uniform. Now the question is reminiscent of the Watergate hearings and the question asked often, “What did baseball know and when did they know it?”
There are reports that baseball knew as early as May that Raffy had failed his drug test and tested positive for steroids. But, they held off the announcement until after the All-Star break and until after Palmeiro broke the 3,000 hit mark. (He’s the fourth player in history to hit 500 home runs and have 3,000 hits.) If that’s all true, baseball will have another black eye, and the game will take another step backwards. Not in places like Boston or New York or St. Louis, but in the non-major league cities where daily contact with the majors only comes through news reports. And those reports in recent years have been more about baseball’s problems than it’s glories.
Bud Selig has never been a strong leader for MLB, but now, more than ever, he needs to turn the reigns of this problem over to an outside agency. People are losing faith that baseball is capable of policing itself when it comes to drug testing. Hire the World Anti-Doping Agency or somebody like it to run the testing. Get out of that business and make the punishment swift and meaningful. We can hope can’t we?