Players deplore doping rather than defending users
FILE - In this Feb. 24, 2012 file photo, Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun speaks during a news conference at baseball spring training in Phoenix. The 2011 National League MVP was suspended without pay for the rest of the season and the postseason Monday, July 22, 2013, the start of sanctions involving players reportedly tied to a Florida clinic accused of distributing performance-enhancing drugs. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
A statue of Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig is displayed outside of Miller Park where a banner showing suspended Milwaukee Brewers star Ryan Braun hangs before a baseball game between the Brewers and the San Diego Padres Tuesday, July 23, 2013, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
FILE - In this April 22, 2012 file photo, Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun, front right, poses with his MVP trophy and Brewers Hall-of-Famer Robin Yount, left, before a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies in Milwaukee. Braun was suspended without pay for the rest of the season and the postseason Monday, July 22, 2013, the start of sanctions involving players reportedly tied to a Florida clinic accused of distributing performance-enhancing drugs. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)
FILE - In this Feb. 24, 2012 file photo, Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun, right, speaks during a news conference at spring training baseball, in Phoenix. Braun stood on a spring training field and proclaimed he was innocent of using banned testosterone. "I would bet my life," he said back then, "that this substance never entered my body at any point." Seventeen months later, he accepted a 65-game suspension from baseball and admitted, "I am not perfect (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
FILE - IN this Feb. 24, 2012 file photo, Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun, right, gets a hug from teammate John Axford after a news conference at spring training baseball, in Phoenix. Braun stood on a spring training field and proclaimed he was innocent of using banned testosterone. "I would bet my life," he said back then, "that this substance never entered my body at any point." Seventeen months later, he accepted a 65-game suspension from baseball and admitted, "I am not perfect. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
NEW YORK – Protective no more, baseball players are downright disgusted these days with doping.
Now they are demanding even stiffer suspensions for those caught cheating.
“It’s a new generation of athletes that are standing up,” Travis Tygart, chief executive of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, said yesterday. “The culture’s been flipped on its head.”
When Ryan Braun accepted a season-ending 65-game suspension Monday rather than fight Major League Baseball over evidence he used performance-enhancing drugs, fellow players appeared tired of those who cast shadows on the sport.
“They’re lying to the fans,” Los Angeles Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson said. “They’re lying to their teammates. They’re lying to their GMs, their owners, and they’re going to get caught.”
Skip Schumaker of the Los Angeles Dodgers said Braun, the 2011 NL MVP for the Milwaukee Brewers, let him down.
“Watching him talk right now makes me sick,” Schumaker said. “I have an autographed Braun jersey in my baseball room that I’ll be taking down. I don’t want my son identifying what I’ve worked so hard to get to and work so hard to have – I don’t want him comparing Braun to me.”
Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who finished second to Braun in the 2011 MVP vote, said the Milwaukee slugger should be stripped of the honor.
“We had conversations, and I considered him a friend,” Kemp said. “I don’t think anybody likes to be lied to, and I feel like a lot of people have felt betrayed.”
Braun tested positive for elevated testosterone in October 2011 but successfully overturned a 50-game penalty when an arbitrator ruled the outfielder’s urine sample was handled improperly. Braun loudly proclaimed his innocence then.
“I thought this whole thing has been despicable on his part,” Detroit pitcher Max Scherzer said. “When he did get caught, he never came clean. He tried to question the ability of the collector when he was caught red-handed. So that’s why the whole Braun situation, there is so much player outrage toward him.”
New York Yankees Manager Joe Girardi said Braun was guilty.
“You don’t accept a deal unless you’re guilty,” he said.
“It’s another black eye for our game. I know this game is very resilient, and there’s been a lot of scandals over the years, but you get tired of it,” Girardi added.
He may soon face his own problem – with a star slugger.
More than a dozen players have been targeted by MLB in its investigation of the closed anti-aging clinic Biogenesis of America, including three-time AL MVP Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees.
The next step will be for MLB to inform the union of additional players it intends to penalize, which could happen as early as a meeting tomorrow, a person familiar with the probe said, speaking on condition of anonymity because no statements were authorized.
New York expects A-Rod could face a much harsher penalty than the one Braun agreed to, a second person familiar with the case said, also speaking on condition of anonymity because no statements were authorized.
The Yankees anticipate Rodriguez could be accused of using PEDs over multiple seasons, of recruiting other athletes for the clinic, of attempting to obstruct MLB’s investigation, and of not being truthful with MLB in the past when he discussed his relationship with Dr. Anthony Galea, who pleaded guilty two years go to a U.S. federal charge of bringing unapproved drugs from Canada into the United States.
Players have the right to have an arbitrator decide whether discipline meets the “just cause” standard in baseball’s drug agreement. Braun’s decision not to fight led others to conclude a grievance would have been futile.
“Obviously the evidence was overwhelming, and it must have been a mountain of it,” Tygart said.
“I think it speaks volumes for the generation of athletes today who don’t want to be forced to make the same mistakes of the past generation who felt compelled in order to compete to use these dangerous drugs,” he said. “I think absolutely that’s a huge sign that the culture has turned in a huge direction from where it was in the late ’90s and early 2000s.”
Despite Braun’s suspension, however, Kemp has no shot at claiming the MVP trophy. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America has said repeatedly that it will not revisit any of its award votes.
“The decision was already made. He won it,” said Jack O’Connell, the BBWAA’s secretary-treasurer.
Commissioner Bud Selig said in March he wants even tougher penalties, and union head Michael Weiner said players will consider toughened rules for 2014.
While Braun’s 65-game penalty is 15 games longer than the current standard for a first offense, Scherzer thinks it’s insufficient.
“The Brewers are unlikely to make the playoffs. He misses 2013, and they are set for 2014,” he said. “For someone that cheated the game as badly as he did, it just doesn’t seem right.”