Yelling At The TV
Steve and Sully - Drop The Gloves
Steve and Sully discuss Manny’s suspension, PED testing and the MLB drug policy.

Steve…Manny was suspended for 50 games including pay for testing positive for P.E.D.'s. His excuse… "Recently I saw a physician for a personal health issue. He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was OK to give me. Unfortunately, the medication was banned under our drug policy. Under the policy that mistake is now my responsibility. I have been advised not to say anything more for now."

My first reaction to this… Have the league mandate physicians to keep track of the prescriptions that the players are given. Each doctor will have an updated medical guide as to what will and will not test positive under league rules. What this will do is take the "I didn't know it was banned" excuse away from the players and put it on the doctors that write the prescriptions.

Sully… It would be all fine and good for something like that to be implemented if the MLB would go for it, but they won't. With the new HIPAA laws ( Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) it would make it extremely difficult for the doctors themselves to be able to have a working relationship with the players knowing they are subject to keep everything confidential but still be under the microscope of the league. There no doubt is conflict of interest here. This is why I think that a grown man who knows at anytime a urine cup might be placed in front of him should have a list of the banned substances sent from the league to their personal physicians to place in their medical charts so it can be referred too when it becomes necessary to write a prescription. Doctor's have the PDR (Physician's Desk Reference) which lists every drug and what they contain, look like, what is etched in it for ID, they should easily be able to ensure that a player under their care doesn’t get handed something that might cause a problem in testing.

Steve... I don't see why the MLBPA would not go for this. HIPAA laws aside, wouldn't the league like to point the finger at someone else other than their precious players? If the players and the Union could take themselves out of the equation as to who to blame when the litmus strip changes color, they would be in agreement. As for the privacy act. Have the players submit a list of their doctors to the league. If a player goes to their personal physician, the doc must report what they prescribed to the player, but not why they were there.

The issue and excuse of "not knowing what you take" is complete and utter BS! One must take personal issue with what they ingest in regards to prescriptions or supplements and what effect it will have on their personal and professional careers. To put the blinders on or stick your head in the sand and say 'I didn't know' is ludicrous!

Sully....Submitting lists of medications to the team can cause an issue too. There's more than enough drugs out there that once prescribed would coincide with a particular diagnosis. For instance a player is prescribed an inhaler for asthma, well you don't need a medical chart to see what he was there for, he obviously has a case of asthma or other breathing problem. Was it something he was hiding from the team, or is it a bronchitis he got with a flu or cold? Then who reads these? Another doctor obviously, the league would need someone to tell them what these medicines are.

Then there are road trips, if a player goes to a doctor in another city for an illness, and chooses not to disclose it to the team, shouldn't he be carrying a list with him of banned substances? Doctor forms ask you what you're taking and why, they also ask what you're allergic too. If you're filling that out I'd like to believe a player would be smart enough to think, I'm not allergic but I know I can't have this or that. A list would be prudent, or even more intelligent would be to ask a doctor before he/she writes a script if there's a steroid in it or anything else that would show up as a banned substance on a test? I know we've discussed this before with Bonds I believe and I had said that no one injects a needle into their (expletive) without knowing what it will do, I find it hard to believe that Manny had no idea what was being ingested into his body.

Steve... What the doctors submit and to whom is another can of worms. Maybe Bud Selig needs to create a "Surgeon General" for the league. Similar to what the government runs. Have the players' doctors submit all prescriptions to the one main Doc 'SG'. He then keeps everything, in private according to the HIPAA laws, from both the league and the public. Only when a player turns up positive on a drug test or goes to a team directly and says that he has an issue, does the 'SG' release only the pertinent information regarding the case.

As for road trips and out of town doctors, players should be restricted to using only team registered doctors and physicians. Each city has a group of MLB registered physician that a player can go to in private. This will in turn allow them to go without the team knowing and the league 'SG' also gets the pertinent information required in each case. It brings us back to the main point of my argument on the topic. Have league registered/mandated doctors that both travel with teams and are available to teams that are in from out of town.

Here is my question... Why would you, as a player, need to go see a doctor on the down-low while in another city? The only answer I can come up with is that you’re looking for something that isn't agreed upon by the league.

Sully...I'll go to your last part first. I can think of a lot of things a "ball player" might want to go to an outside doctor for, besides getting his HGH refilled. Individual preferences vary, but I still think you'd have a hard time mandating to players that they have to use one specific doctor, but I see what you're saying. But with the HIPPA laws in place we still have issues on what's private and what's not. Who sees a written document and who informs who about its contents. Myself, I'm not too keen on anyone other than my doctor and her office knowing the contents of my charts unless I'm asked first and for what they need it for and who else is going to see it, then sign a release for those particular documents and that’s it nothing more.

Placing a SG as you said in charge isn't a bad idea, but in the end the accountability is on the player, if they're grown up enough to make millions they should be grown up enough to ask a physician what a particular drug is for and what's in it. But, what do these player's do in the offseason when they return to other countries or travel and need a doctor then? David Ortiz lives in the Dominican Republic in the offseason, what does he do, call the Red Sox front office and ask where he can go, or does he have to wait to get approval like an HMO to go get treated? I did just hear between our phone calls that there actually IS a list of approved physicians issued to the teams from MLB. If Manny went outside that list and willingly did so to get HGH, then 50 games it is, don't let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya!
Mike Lowell of the Red Sox said something before the game last night that was eye opening; he said that the players have a lot of doors open to them when it comes to their medications, they can send them off to the league to be tested and wait a couple of days for the results. His point was, isn’t it better to use these options which are at their disposal and have a drug or supplement checked by the league before ingesting it rather than risk having a urine test come back positive and be suspended for 50 games because you thought it was okay or that a doctor knows what he’s doing? He said- “we’re talking about a lot of money we’d be losing”. Talk about hitting the nail on the head!

Steve... I suppose the players are going to have come down from their high-horse and start to allow the league a few concessions into their daily medical routine. Accountability on the player’s part, in regards to being held responsible for medical situations, needs to be more focused. Make it an either or issue. Either the players are responsible, or the doctors that gave them the meds are responsible. The entire he said they said BS is bogus and needs to end. The information gathered by the doctors will remain private with the 'SG', just like with your personal doctor. The prescriptions distributed get emailed to a private secure account held by the league 'SG'. Only when something goes wrong, does the info become league knowledge.

Make player testing a year-round policy. Players during the off-season need to mind their P's and Q's and not stick themselves in the ass with dirty needles full of stuff when they have no clue what it is or what it will do. If a player knows that he is going to have to pee in a cup sometime between Halloween and Easter, they might think twice about seeing Dr.Feelgood. For those who travel out of the country during the off-season, they need to make themselves available within 48 hours notice of being drawn on the list to test. While in the area, the med techs that do the random tests should go to the players private doctors and update the book as to what is good and what isn't in the new league testing policy.

Sully…Well Steve, I can think of methods the league could use, such as mandatory testing for all rostered players at the start of the season with random testing at their discretion, but we know the MLBPA would fight against it. As employers teams should have the right to demand from their player's that they abide by their rules and the rules of the league year round, I think we agree here. Maybe the method of education and the threat of suspension without pay isn't enough, but the chance to lose a paycheck for the entire season if they test positive for any substance deemed illicit would get their attention. It's obvious the current systems isn’t working and just because Manny says he’s passed 15 previous tests we’ll never know the truth, they don't reveal that unless they get suspended, even then it’s listed as a banned substance not what it actually was, the talking heads yesterday merely put pieces together. His 50 days and losing 8 million ducats is a drop in the bucket, he made 160 million with the Sox and he's got endorsements too. Those will diminish rapidly and he'll when he's a free agent, but we know he will have offers regardless. Someone is always willing to look the other way if it means the purse at the gate will go up!

Steve...Agreed. Policy in some way shape or form needs to change. Maybe all the money the Dodgers, as an organization, lost with the Manny promotion, will get the leagues attention. The MLBPA should take Manny to task for this. The team centered an entire promotion on one player. Billboards, t-shirts, ticket packages... All wasted because 'he' decided to take something a personal doctor gave him something he 'thought' was OK. Not only should Manny lose his paycheck of $7.7 Meeeeelion dollars, but should be forced to payback monies the team lost on the promotion centered on him. As for ticket prices going up at the gate for the team he plays for next season... I have one word... CoughCrankeesCough...

Sully...I can't argue with you there!

Okay, that's how we feel about the subject, what's your take? Please feel free to give us your opinion on this never-ending, highly debated topic. Thanks!

Sully & Steve
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