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Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on October 18, 2012
Sometimes life drops a bombshell on you and forces you to reconsider a few things.Â And I'm doing some serious reconsidering about a player or two I thought for sure was a PED cheat.Â No, not the arrogant Roger Clemens or Melky Cabrera or a handful of others who've definitely been caught taking PEDs, but of a few whose positive test was more than a little surprising.
Anyone who knows much about the supplement market or nutraceuticals (as opposed to pharmaceuticals, which are very tightly regulated) knows that there is a lot of contamination in these products and that steroid traces as well as other banned PED traces have been found in many, if not most, of the products on the market.Â It's called secondary contamination, and it has led to players testing positive for PEDs.
In general I've taken the stance that even if it's inadvertent and a player had taken a supplement that caused him to test positive that it was the player's fault.
But what if the player hadn't actually taken it?Â What if a secondary contamination came from a source that the player didn't actually control and didn't even know about?
Apparently that may be the case for at least one player, but probably for several, many of whom were scoffed at and disbelieved when they protested and claimed innocence or ignorance of how they could have tested positive.
There are a number of ways a person could find themselves contaminated, but it's unlikely that too many MLB players are working part time in environments where such substances are manufactured or heavily used legitimately leading to either an inhaled or transdermal contamination of their blood or urine.
However, contamination by at least some substances can come from other sources, some of which are so personal that players and ownership just won't talk about -- including the exchange of body fluids between consenting adults, as an unnamed source involved in pro sports told me about a player.
That's one of the reasons MLB's drug testing policy has an investigative phase before the big announcement of a player testing positive for a PED. Â It's a privacy issue just like the ones that don't tell us which players have had an orchiectomy (look it up if you don't know what it is) and are legitimately being allowed, via medical exemption, to take artificial testosterone (which otherwise would be considered a PED).
It's a factor that may have lead to at least two or three PED positives, where the player probably had no clue either that his partner was taking medication or that he could absorb drugs that were in his partner's system.
It would take a very devious PED user to have thought up that as a route of delivery they might be able to get away with.Â And while it's certainly not impossible that someone has been using that story to hide behind and justify their doping, the odds are that the few players who've tested positive because of this had a clue that their partner's medication would cause PED spikes in their own blood or urine.
This revelation certainly has made me rethink and reanalyze the zero tolerance policy that I'd like to see Major League Baseball adopt.Â While I still think that should be the ultimate goal for the sport, there obviously must be some leeway and some education given to the players when it comes to this type of contamination so they can be prepared to avoid it.
It's hard to admit you are wrong, but to those players that I doubted and scoffed at when you were truly innocent, you have my deepest apologies.