WADA tried to bury a doping study

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This is interesting: the New York Times reports that some World Anti-Doping Agency researchers did a study which revealed that doping was way more commonplace than people think but that WADA prevented them from publishing it:

The researchers were eager to publish their results, which they believed would expose a harsh reality of modern sports: that far more athletes are doping than might be imagined, and that current drug-testing protocols catch few of the cheaters. But after a final draft of the study was submitted to the antidoping agency, the organization ultimately told the researchers they could not publish their findings at this time …

Possibilities:

  • It was bad research. I don’t know that lay people can know that. The article describes the process but no one is on record criticizing the methodology or anything;
  • It was embarrassing to WADA in that it showed that a huge numbers of dopers are not being caught in a sport that it polices;
  • A study showing widespread, even routine doping by athletes flies in the face of WADA’s and other PED-hawks’ rhetoric about doping being evil, aberrant and borderline criminal. Lots of people are doing it, suggesting it’s a chronic thing instead of some shocking transgression against decency.

Not that those are the only possibilities or that these are mutually-exclusive.

But I believe that this sort of thing needs to be acknowledged whenever someone starts talking about how baseball or other U.S. team sports should adopt the tough protocols of WADA. Usually those calls come from WADA spokesmen, of course, and are offered without any criticism or question in the articles in which they appear. WADA isn’t perfect, guys, and they aren’t always on the side of the angels. They have agendas like everyone else.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.