The league will announce which players it will suspend in connection with their involvement with a Miami clinic that distributed performance-enhancing drugs before its closure.
Rice University sports ethicist Clark Haptonstall says MLB’s move is big.
“Major League Baseball has the opportunity to really put their stamp of authority on this. And the fact that they’re going after a big star like Alex Rodriguez and they’ve already nailed Ryan Braun, who’s another big star, it shows that nobody is above the law. And it’ll prove to the other players that they have to take care of business and they have to play the game clean.”
Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun was suspended for 65 games last month.
Haptonstall says it’s a good sign that the league takes the doping violations seriously unlike maybe in the past.
“Major League Baseball has had a bit of a reputation – fair or not – that they have turned their heads and ignored obvious signs when it involved Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and other superstars, because it helped build the business of baseball.”
Haptonstall says that attitude has changed as more fans no longer trust Major League Baseball players after seeing them become stronger and stronger and records not just broken but obliterated in the last 15 years or so.
Dr. Carlos Hamilton is an endocrinologist at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston and has served on a committee for the World Anti-Doping Agency. He says while baseball is a game of skill and hand-eye coordination, performance-enhancing drugs have helped players to hit more homeruns than ever before.
“I mean, when nobody hits 60 homeruns for the history of baseball until one year when all of a sudden three guys do it, you know something has changed.”
Hamilton says the kinds of drugs baseball players are most likely to take are androgenic steroid hormones such as testosterone that increase muscle strength and power. He says the only way to minimize doping is to test regularly and punish all violators.
“Frankly, you know, you can talk about this all you want to, but as long as the rewards are in the millions of dollars to these guys, they’re going to cheat if they can get away with it.”
One question that remains open is how fans will react if the league’s best players are suspended or even banned from the game.
Professor Haptonstall, the sports ethicist, says fans are mostly divided into two camps.
“There are the fans that want to see amazing achievements by athletes but they want to see them clean. But I think there are also fans that just want to see the monstrous homeruns and the baseball players that look like professional wrestlers and they just want to see amazing accomplishments no matter what the situation.”
The suspension announcement could come before the weekend.