Saturday, August 8, 2009

David Ortiz

It's old news now, but in case you had not heard, the New York Times has reported that David Ortiz was on the list of players that tested positive for performance enhancing drugs back in 2003. This was the preliminary testing put in place to determine if regular testing was to occur. This is the same list that Alex Rodriguez was on.

Ortiz has now commented on the situation. He flatly denied using steroids and attributed the positive test to his "carelessness" purchasing legal supplements and vitamins. It has long been speculated that foreign born players, and those from the Dominican Republic in particular, are more likely to accidentally consume banned substances because regulation of these substances and other legal substances is more lax in Latin America that in the United States.

As I've talked about in the past, there is a deep epistimological problem embedded deep within the steroids issue. Who knows what one can believe with any confidence?

While on the one hand I recognize that the players here have every incentive to cheat and every incentive to lie about cheating, I also do not find it plausible that every player who was on the 2003 list was attempting to cheat by taking performance enhancing drugs. There are bound to be some mistakes. Nor do I believe that any player who may have taken now-banned substances prior to 2003 is necessarily a vile human being who should be cast out of of Major League Baseball into some fiery pit where there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Therefore, I think that we need to examine more than just whether or not a player was on the 2003 list. For example, with Alex Rodriguez, I thought that his admission to more than was publicly known was important for establishing credibilty. Similarly with David Ortiz, his past statements on the issue and his reaction to the current incidient seem credible to me. Furthermore, neither Alex nor David has failed a test since 2003. This is a large piece of evidence that must count for both of them. Otherwise, what is the point of mandatory drug testing?

We must remember that very, very few people, a group that does not include many, if any, members of the media that break these stories and drive the coverage, really know what did and did not happen. Their inferences and speculataions are perhaps only slightly more valid than my own. I don't need some moralizing columnist whose overarching goal is to sell newspapers or generate hits telling me why this player or that player is a disgraceful, lying cheat. Therefore, my position is to give the benefit of the doubt to players who appear to me to be behaving credibly.

I think David Ortiz still deserves the benefit of the doubt and I'm going to give it to him. Certainly, my trust could be misplaced. If more information comes to light and it appears that Ortiz or Rodriguex have been less than truthful, then I will reevaluate my position. Until then, I do not feel inclined to rush to judgement.

1 comment:

Jeremiah said...

While I have been inclined to suspect Ortiz for a while (due to the track record of stars who seem "superhuman"), I admit that his negative drug tests since then give him some credibility. However, what about Manny Ramirez? His name was linked to the 2003 tests at the same time as Ortiz, but nobody has said anything about him, probably because it is now accepted that he is a cheater. But he didn't fail any tests between 2003 and 2009 (to my knowledge, anyway). So did he use drugs in 2003, then quit until 2009? Or was his positive test in '03 an accident like Ortiz's? Or, was he using the whole time, but for some reason didn't get caught?