The Melk was too good to be true.

On a chilly summer evening in San Francisco’s AT&T Park, Melky Cabrera strode to the plate, one hit away from history.  Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Bryan Shaw delivered the pitch that “The Melk-man” drove into the history books for the most hits in month by a San Francisco Giant.  The record had been held for fifty-four years by none other than the Willie Mayes.  And after earning All-Star Game MVP honors, Melky Cabrera’s 2012 MLB season seemed almost too good to be true.  In fact, it was.

On August 15th, the Giants outfielder was suspended 50 games following a positive test for synthetic testosterone, turning his dream season into a nightmare.  Cabrera was batting .346 with 11 home runs and 60 RBIs in his first season with San Francisco.  And as an impending free agent, he also likely cost himself tens of millions of dollars.

Cabrera also exacerbated his situation by reportedly paying a consultant to create a phony website and fictitious supplement to fool MLB into thinking he had accidentally ingested a banned substance, which would exonerate him from the positive test.  Now, the Melk-man is in a pot of hot water, with Jeff Novitzky, an investigative agent for the Food and Drug Administration, looking into the matter.  Ultimately, Cabrera could face criminal penalties.

In the meantime, Melky’s positive test has rekindled criticism of MLB’s Drug Policy.  In 2006, the MLB Players Association and the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball established the “Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.”  The program subjects MLB players to a urine test when reporting to spring training, one unannounced random urine test during the season, and one urine test at the end of the season to test for performance enhancing drugs (PEDs).  Over 200 players are also subject to a random test during the off-season.

Many have questioned the dearth of tests throughout the season, especially given the ability of cheating players to eliminate any traces of elevated testosterone after a week of taking a banned substance.  The critics call for more reliable Carbon Isotope Ratio (CIR) screening.  Another option is stiffer punishments, such as a one-year ban for a first offense, and a lifetime ban for a second.

One is, thus, left to question whether the Melk-man’s ban, one of the most significant in recent history, will lead to further reform in the MLB’s Drug Policy.

 

Niels Melius

 

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One Response to “Melk-man” Doping Plot Thickens, Dragging MLB’s Drug Policy Back Into the Fray

  1. Andrew Solinger says:

    Given that the MLB’s drug policy has not changed much since 2006, I think it’s doubtful that the suspension of any player could change this policy. I don’t really know that Melky’s positive test was any more significant than Manny Ramirez, who simply chose to retire instead of face the agreed upon penalty. Another sign of this policy’s weakness is the fact that several players have tested positive multiple times (including three positive tests for Neifi Perez), showing that even those players that are caught once don’t necessarily learn their lesson.

    I think the real question is whether Congress should be spending their valuable time regulating steroids in baseball? Although, without some pressure from outside of MLB or the Players Association, this policy is unlikely to change in the near future.