Saturday, March 27, 2010

WADA’s Tired Demands of Major League Baseball Again

WADA’s Tired Demands of Major League Baseball Again

By Evan Weiner

March 27, 2010

(New York, N. Y.) -- From the this is boring file, John Fahey, the President of the World Anti-Doping Agency, is demanding that Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association knuckle under to him and his merry band of urine collectors and apparently now blood test takers and get serious about cleansing the sport of "cheaters." Fahey wants Major League Baseball to start taking blood samples in addition to urine samples of individual players to see if they are using human growth hormone.

Apparently Fahey thinks that players should just give blood and is presuming that all the players are using HGH until proven otherwise. There is a presumption of guilt by the WADA guys and they are absolutely correct in their approach.

Just ask them.

Fahey and his group, who trample over individual rights in their quest to clean sports, say there is a valid blood test for HGH because a British rugby player tested, Terry Newton, positive after giving blood. The odd thing about Fahey blasting Major League Baseball is that International Olympic Committee delegates have exiled the sport to Elba; well maybe not Elba as Major League Baseball has moved on and started a global competition, the World Baseball Classic.

The Newton case was the first time a player in any athletic endeavor tested positive for HGH but a major question remains. Is the test reliable? At this point, WADA officials say yes but WADA is an arm of the International Olympic Committee, an organization that has been assailed by the former Majority Leader of the United States Senate George Mitchell for being corrupt. The same George Mitchell who issued the drug report on Major League Baseball.

Fahey is following in the footsteps of his predecessor Dick Pound, the Montreal lawyer, who was also on a cheater crusade. Apparently the Pounds and Faheys of the world and you can throw in the President of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, want to rid the sports world of cheaters even though those cheaters are using illegal substances that could end up in arrests and maybe a conviction here or there.

Rogge tried to make that case to Italian authorities prior to the 2006 Turin Olympics.

WADA acts as if it is a sovereign state and one of the WADA rules is that all athletes be ready for a drug test when WADA wants to administer a drug test at any time or any place. A human rights violation is not troubling to the Pounds and Faheys of the world. Or Rogge either as he apparently looked the other way in the lead up to the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics about China’s human rights record.

Some athletic organizations have fought back against the 24/7 rule and the tactics seems more in line with the Geneva Convention treaties that govern the treatment of war prisoners than sports. The Belgium sports union, Sporta, challenged WADA's edict under Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights that allows for privacy and the right to be free from unlawful searches. The International Federation of Professional Footballers is not very happy with WADA either.

The country of France doesn't seem too impressed with WADA either. A plan to increase taxes on television sports fees that would go to help fund WADA according to the magazine Cycleworld has been scrapped. French football team owners didn't think that they should be taxed to support anti-doping efforts.

WADA is not a state nor is the International Olympic Committee although the IOC for some inexplicable reason has the same United Nations observer rights as the Vatican, which is a sovereign state. WADA works with the cover of governments globally.

That is the most troubling part of the Rogge-Pound and now Fahey squawking. Governments have given these people legitimacy. The World Anti-Doping Agency gets funding from governments globally. WADA just cares about sports. It would be refreshing to see a Fahey, a former Australian Finance Minister, Rogge or Pound speak out on the drug problems on the US-Mexican border or the other drug problems in the world including poppy production in Afghanistan but they don’t utter a word. They just go after athletes. Of course Rogge and his IOC delegation (Pound was an IOC delegate) and Fahey make their livelihoods through international sports events with funding from American TV networks and American corporations paying a great deal of the freight.

Major League Baseball has been in the IOC/WADA cross hairs for a long time. The international sports organization was stung by Major League Baseball's refusal to interrupt the regular season and send MLB's best players to a meaningless two-week baseball tournament. The IOC will never officially admit a vendetta against Major League Baseball, that is too petty even for the IOC, but IOC delegates think they have gotten even with Baseball Commissioner Bid Selig and the former Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association Donald Fehr by throwing the game out of the Olympics starting with the London Games in 2012 and continuing with the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics. In an unrelated matter, the IOC delegates also dismissed softball from the Olympic sports roster beginning in 2012 but the thought is that the IOC by dropping women’s softball is somehow hurting Major League Baseball.

The unofficial thinking is that the IOC was punishing baseball for not toeing the line for not sending players to their Olympics and also not adopting the WADA rules by more than 130 governments and numerous sports organizations globally.

Fahey and his ilk cannot be too happy that the United States and Canadian law enforcement officials are investigating Dr. Anthony Galea who is at the center of a drug smuggling case involving human growth hormones. Dr. Galea has some big named clients including Golf's Tiger Woods and New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez. The Fahey/Rogge view of HGH is slightly different than that of real governments. It is illegal to possess the stuff unless administered by a physician. The Fahey/Rogge doctrine is more in the lines of the use of HGH is cheating and that a simple suspension of a couple of years is better than jail time.

Since steroids and HGH possession is illegal in the United States without a doctor's consent, law enforcement officials, whether it is the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Drug Enforcement Administration, should be the lead investigators not some bunch of people like Fahey, Rogge and Pound who think they have some quasi-governmental authority.

At the end of the day, if the big money behind sports wanted to clean up the industry and that is a big if, there are very simple steps that can be taken. Turn off the money faucet that keeps big time sports going in the United States. Family values corporations like Disney (ESPN) or another guy who peddles high morals, Rupert Murdoch (FOX), could just stop buying television rights to Major League Baseball and other sports, corporations could say no to buying big ticket items like club seats and luxury boxes, municipalities would make teams pay property taxes and cut far better leases with teams. But that doesn't happen.

Which begs the question. Is Fahey truly interested in assuring the integrity of a sports event or is he, Rogge and all the other sports moralists that are pushing evasive drug testing by taking blood and trampling on athletes' rights just to appease some fans who scream on talk radio, although most don't care about athletes using performance enhancing drugs, and protect their high paying jobs and global status by jumping up and down and yelling about the need for Major League Baseball players giving blood because it is some sort of privilege to be an athlete?

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