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Are the Feds now making mlb into a victim?

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by The Big Ragu, May 19, 2008.

  1. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member


    The way this whole thing unfolded is fascinating.

    The Feds wanted the 2003 test results for 10 Balco-related players as part of that probe. This was the test the union agreed to that was to remain confidential, and if 5 percent or more of the players tested positive it would trigger a penalty phase. There were two labs. One had the results with codes instead of names, and the other had the name that went with each code. The union fought giving up the 10 players, so the Feds got a search warrant the next day for one of the labs and came across the complete list of players that had tested positive -- 104 of them. They then hit the other lab and matched up the names.

    Now according to this story, the Feds want to subpoena all 104 players, put them under oath and find out who their suppliers were. If that happens, there will be a lot of names.

    Question is, is this fair, given that even though 2003 was about 8 years too late, baseball was finally sort of doing the right thing and the players took those tests with an expectation that the results would remain confidential?
  2. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    As usual, the defense of the guilty isn't "I didn't do it," but "it's not fair that you found out."

    ::) ::) ::)
  3. You promise somebody the results will be confidential and then you renege?
    That would be unfair.
  4. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    Years ago, there was a guy who kidnapped and killed a child. The DA promised the killer that he wouldn't seek the death penalty if the killer revealed where he put the child's body. Killer told the cops, and the child's body was found. DA decided to renege on the offer anyways. Upper courts ruled the DA had to abide by his word.

    Obviously not the same situation, but I would think the players would have a pretty strong case for their results to remain private, especially with HIPPA. If they are revealed, they might have a heck of a lawsuit to file.
  5. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    The Feds never promised the players anything.

    MLB and the Union did. And they are not reneging on anything. The Union is going to fight this tooth and nail, just as they tried to fight turning over the results of the 10 Balco players -- which ironically is what led to the search warrant that got the Feds all 104 names.

    My question is--without any of the legal questions--does it seem unfair to anyone else for the Feds to be going to these lengths?

    To me, it's one thing if they catch guys on their own using evidence they get in a more neutral way. But the 2003 test seemed like mlb turning a corner and starting (under pressure, but still...) to acknowledge what was going on in the game. It seems to me like everyone was pressuring the players to submit to tests and they did it in good faith. If the Feds strip the anonymity the players were counting on, it is like they are punishing the players for doing what everyone was calling for. It just seems inherently unfair and like they are asking the players to take a step back and be even less cooperative. Because if you cooperate, you get screwed for doing it.
  6. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    By the way, not to threadjack on my question. But when I first heard how many positive tests were, I was blown away. I remember the debates on here in 2004 and 2005 in which people were saying things like "witch hunt" whenever there'd be a post by someone about how widespread use was.

    The players KNEW they were going to be tested, and 104 still tested positive. Add in the players that had to have been smart enough to get off the drugs long enough, or who somehow evaded detection and jeez, can you imagine what the number of mlb PED users must have been in say, 2000 or 2001? It had to have been upwards of a third of all mlb players and likely many more than that.
  7. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    Feds will argue that what the players did was criminal, and that they have a right to go after criminals.

    It does seem unfair though, that the Feds can't find evidence on their own, so they are trying to use evidence that the players gave voluntarily. Frankly, I have a feeling the players and MLB are going to argue that the Feds are violating their right to privacy if their names are revealed.
  8. If the confidentiality agreement was freely bargained between MLB and the MLBPA, then I suspect the Feds are unlikely to prevail in court.
    And just to be sure we're not misrepresenting each other, because that would be wrong, I never said that the Feds promised anyone anything, and the question of whether something is fair, which is the question that was asked, is often different from whether something is legal.
  9. digger

    digger New Member

    To me it's pretty simple: the feds know that evidence of people doing something illegal is available by getting the records of that lab. If they can get a search warrant to get the information, they should. Unfortunate for the players, but oh well. The feds shouldn't worry about the promises they were given by someone else.

    Look at it this way: My friend commits a murder. He tells me about it, but with the promise that I won't tell anyone else. I keep my promise, but then get worried that my friend might do something to me for knowing, so I write a report about it and put it in a safe deposit box, with the instruction that it be read if anything happened to me. Then I tell him about it, in front of someone else we both know. That person then puts two and two together, and realizes I might have evidence about a crime.

    He goes to the police, and they put two and two together (my friend had always been suspected of the murder, but they couldn't get enough proof). They come to me, and ask what I know. I tell them I can't tell them anything (I promised), but they know about the letter in the safe deposit box. If they can convince a judge to give them a subpoena for my safe deposit box, based on the fact that it contains evidence of the crime, there's nothing I, or my friend, can do. And the police SHOULD try to do it.

    I know its murder vs. what someone might call a "victimless'' crime, but the police should still do what they can to stop it and prosecute it if it's a crime.
  10. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    It's become common to extrapolate like this but people rarely take into account the fact that many players saw the anonymous "survey" testing year as one last opportunity to use PEDs without penalty.

    On the question of fairness, of course it's not. Every employee (of any company, not just MLB employees) who submits to any type of urine or blood testing by their employer is now under notice that the federal government believes it has the right to confiscate their individual test results without cause and to use those results against the employee in a criminal investigation. Maybe insurance companies will provide the map for the next great prosecutorial treasure hunt?

    Then again, fairness has become the rallying cry of chumps in recent years.
  11. digger --
    There are a couple dozen problems with your hypothetical, the biggest of which is that your relationship to your friend is different from MLB's relationship to the players or to the union.
    Feds can't just randomly fish for stuff. They certainly can't in areas where there is legal privilege -- doctor/patient, attorney/client, priest/penitent -- and there are varying degrees of legal roadblocks down the line.
  12. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    I wasn't trying to misrepresent you. They are two different questions, as you point out.

    Legalities often come up with arbitrary standards, so I was more going by my gut of "Does this seem fair?" And it just doesn't pass the test for me. The players did what everyone was calling for. What message are you sending if you punish them for finally starting to face what was going on?
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