Drug Allegations Haunt Baseball’s All-Star Game

Around 20 baseball players are under investigation for the alleged use of performance enhancing drugs

Timothy Takemoto via Flickr

Tomorrow night, some of baseball’s biggest stars will gather at Citi Field in Queens, New York, for the annual All-Star game. The All-Star game is typically just a fun exhibition of Major League Baseball’s best players. The winners get bragging rights; the winning league gets the added bonus of home field advantage in the World Series.

This year though, there is a pall over the normally upbeat All-Star Break, a period of a few days around the All-Star Game when no baseball games are played. Around 20 baseball players are under investigation for the alleged use of performance enhancing drugs.

The Miami New Times broke the story in January, after they got a hold of records from the now-closed Biogenesis clinic. They found names of players like All-Stars Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun all over the notes and spreadsheets.

Rodriguiez has flatly denied the allegation, and met with MLB investigators last Friday.

The Boston Globe raises some potential problems with the case:

But here are the issues that some sports attorneys bring up: Can MLB make the suspensions stick on appeal given what could be the lack of positive tests (except on Melky Cabrera and Yasmani Grandal, who served 50-game suspensions), the fact that MLB had to pay its main witness, and would the evidence gathered and interviews conducted be enough?

MLB doesn’t need positive tests per se to nail the players, but it needs credible evidence, and more witnesses than Biogenesis founder Tony Bosch. MLB could always claim it had to pay a witness because it doesn’t have subpoena power.

Superstars Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez, who appear prominently in the Biogenesis evidence, have not officially tested positive for PEDs. Braun tested positive but the evidence was ruled contaminated by an arbiter, and Braun was cleared of the charges.

A-Rod has admitted PED use, but he has never failed a test that has counted.

If the MLB decides that their players were using drugs, they could suspend the players for either 50 or 100 games.

That’s a big deal. There are 162 games in a baseball season. Going into the All-Star break, teams have played well over half of the games in the season, so after the All-Star game is when the playoff race really starts. To have a star player suspended during this critical time could have a devastating effect of the team’s chances of making it to the October playoffs. Though, to be fair, some teams collapse anyway, without doping players as an excuse.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Baseball on the Screen
How Babe Ruth Changed Baseball
The Physics of Cheating in Baseball

Get the latest stories in your inbox every weekday.