At The Ballyard ... with Steve Weissman

Monday, November 21, 2005

Request for Urine Samples Could Rain on MLB’s Parade

Reports this weekend said that federal prosecutors involved in the ongoing BALCO steroid investigation are seeking access to hundreds of urine samples that were collected in 2003 from major league baseball players. Federal judges previously have prohibited such action on the basis that the search warrants used to obtain the samples were improper, and attorneys for the Major League Baseball Players Association also have fought it on the basis that granting it would amount to an unreasonable search and seizure.

Coming as this does on the heels of baseball’s new, tough anti-steroids and -amphetamine policy, one wonders if the spectre of privacy violations raised by the request will somehow cast a shadow over what otherwise has been a notable step forward in the move to clean up professional sports. Such concerns had long kept the MLBPA from endorsing any sort of meaningful testing program, and while it may be too late to back out now, the last thing we need is for doubts about the confidentiality of test results to rain on MLB’s parade. At the very least, some comfort may be taken in the fact that the judicial system seems to be doing its job.

On a tangentially related note, check out Tony Massarotti’s column in yesterday’s Boston Herald, which echoes my speculation Friday that baseball’s tough new stance against amphetamines as well as steroids will lead to player fatigue, statistical declines, and perhaps, eventually, an erosion of attendance. I guess it’s true that great minds think alike!

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