Saturday, March 11, 2006

Steroids were made illegal in baseball in 1991

It has been stated many times, on this site and elsewhere, that if Barry Bonds starting taking steroids in 1998 he did nothing wrong, because they weren't banned by baseball then. That turns out to be flat-out untrue. Via commenter kdg123 over at Firebrand, Fay Vincent put baseball's current drug policy into effect in 1991. It reads as follows:
The possession, sale or use of any illegal drug or controlled substance by Major League players and personnel is strictly prohibited....This prohibition applies to all illegal drugs and controlled substances, including steroids or prescription drugs for which the individual in possession of the drug does not have a prescription.
(the full text of Vincent's memo can be found here.)

So that puts that to rest. Anyone using steroids after June 7, 1991 was violating MLB rules. (Same thing goes for anyone using amphetamines without a prescription.)


  1. So I guess if they go after Bonds they should also attempt to identify the 50 or so players who tested positive in 2004 when testing was anonymous. And those players (along with Giambi and the testimony that he gave to the grand jury) should all receive the *exact* same level of investigation and discipline as Bonds. I would have no problem with that. MLB had Fainaru to do their homework for them in the Bonds case, but they sure would suck up a lot of their own (and owners money) investigating every last player.

    And of course, there is the 600 pound Gorilla in the building - the union. They will say whatever it takes and argue forever and ever about the collective bargaining agreement, etc., etc. And if you have a union, generally EVERYTHING has to be negotiated for. The Company can write a memo and say EEs can't wear blue (or maybe obscene T-shirts) and it will be worth as much as the piece of paper it is written on if it does not go through the collective bargaining agreement.

    But hell, I say go after everyone.

  2. PS- what happened to your post on the real World Cup?

  3. (Weird -- I must've saved it as a draft when I fixed a typo. It's back up.)

    So yeah, it's a total mess. Hell, you have to assume 50%+ or more MLBers were taking prescription amphetamines without a prescription.

    The scrutiny Bonds and Giambi is getting/have gotten is a result of the criminal investigation of BALCO (again, Bonds got immunity, so he wasn't the target). So I guess the question is: why the focus on those two? I guess there are a few possibilities:

    1) the prosecutors focused on the big names only.
    2) the leak was of the big names only.
    3) the SF Chronicle reporters chose to focus on the big names only.
    4) the media attention was on the big names only.

    It could be a combination of all of those. Remember, Jeremy Giambi also went in front of the grand jury, and was mentioned in the original article as well, and people (like us) talk about him as if he has gotten zero attention.

    Good point about the CBA.

  4. Well actually now that you brought up the questions below, there were about four or five players that were named in the original investigative piece on the BALCO case.

    Beside the big two (actually it was the big three - Sheff may have testified that he got some cream from Bonds in the trial - remember he had the SI interview last spring), there was also Benito Santiago, Bobby Estalella and Armando Rios - all teammates of Bonds.

    Maybe they go after those guys and other former players and threaten to take away their pensions unless the talk.