When will enough be enough? How many of the game's greatest stars have to be tarnished before baseball takes real action against PEDs? The latest revelation that Dodgers enigmatic outfielder Manny Ramirez has tested positive for a banned substance is a new and glaring reminder that something drastic and decisive must be done to restore integrity to the game of baseball.
The public has become numb to these situations. On the surface, Ramirez and his 50-game suspension may seem to simply place him in a class with the plethora of other frauds who have been found to have used PEDs, but far more can be derived from Manny's positive test. While much of the information about offenders like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Roger Clemens is largely history — occuring in baseball's lawless 80s and 90s — Manny Ramirez has failed a drug test now, under the current, supposedly effective testing system. Some even say that Ramirez's positive test is a sign that the system is, in fact, working. Unfortunately, in reality the proper and accurate conclusion is completely the opposite.
Manny himself stated that he has passed 15 drug tests in the past five years. And therein lies the far-reaching scope of this positive test. Ramirez tested positive for a female fertility drug called hCG. Its street uses are sometimes weight loss, enhanced sexual performance, and, predominately, to restart testosterone production after a steroid cycle.
Relying solely on visual evidence alone, weight loss seemingly can be ruled out. And unless Manny is going to reveal in the next few days that he just hasn't been the same in the sack, it seems pretty obvious sexual enchancement probably wasn't his motivation. So that leaves only the third option as a plausible motivator for Manny to consume this drug.
Let's recap; Manny passed 15 drug tests and wasn't caught doing anything wrong until he tested positive for taking a drug usually consumed AFTER a steroid cycle. And assuming Ramirez used the drug to restore his body's testosterone production (and not sex), that would logically suggest that he passed at least one of the drug tests while on a steroid cycle. This positive test is an exposure and damnation of both Ramirez and the pathetic MLB drug testing policy.
There have been many great stories in the young MLB season. The Toronto Blue Jays have surprisingly surged into first place in the ultra-competitive A.L. East. Zack Greinke continues to dominate the American League with his 6-0 record and his 0.40 ERA. But because baseball and its commissioner refuse to use their authority to eliminate the banned substance epidemic from the game, the actual play on the field is the secondary story and is constantly under a cloud of pessimistic scrutiny. How many more of baseball's titans will fall before the game itself collapses? As a sport whose past, present, and future are firmly connected by statistics, what will baseball be once its numbers are totally violated of their meaning?
The solution to this issue is simple. Implement the strictest, most accurate, and most thorough testing methods, similar to those in the Olympics: institute a zero tolerance policy that bans a player a full season for the first violation and life for a second, and save all testing samples for a set period of time for retroactive testing. These basic steps would make the ramifications of cheating frightening enough to tempted players that all but the absolute stupidest would be deterred. Unfortunately, it seems Manny fits into that undetterable profile.