Earlier today a book excerpt was released in which it was revealed that Alex Rodriguez received therapeutic use exemptions from Major League Baseball for performance enhancing drugs, including testosterone, for at least the 2007 and 2008 seasons.
A few moments ago, Major League Baseball issued the following statement:
“All decisions regarding whether a player shall receive a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) under the Joint Drug Program are made by the Independent Program Administrator (IPA) in consultation with outside medical experts, with no input by either the Office of the Commissioner or the Players Association. The process is confidentially administered by the IPA, and MLB and the MLBPA are not even made aware of which players applied for TUEs.
“The TUE process under the Joint Drug Program is comparable to the process under the World Anti-Doping Code. The standard for receiving a TUE for a medication listed as a performance-enhancing substance is stringent, with only a few such TUEs being issued each year by the IPA. MLB and the MLBPA annually review the TUE process to make sure it meets the most up-to-date standards for the issuance of TUEs.
“As recommended by the Mitchell Report, since 2008 MLB and the MLBPA have publicly issued the IPA’s annual report, which documents how many TUEs were granted for each category of medication. We believe this high level of transparency helps to ensure the proper operation of the TUE process.”
One can’t take issue with any of the facts asserted in that statement. However, the “since 2008” thing about TUE allowances doesn’t address what A-Rod was doing in 2007, which is when it was reported he received a TUE for testosterone. Also, the reference to the Independent Program Administrator and his or her consultations with “outside medical experts” ignores the fact that, per the excerpt in the book, baseball did not yet have an expert medical panel to advise the IPA in 2007.
So, yes, the system for TUE may be excellent now. But it was not the same in 2007 and before, and I believe the claims in the book excerpt still raise some interesting questions about how baseball handled such matters in the past and what — and why — A-Rod was allowed to take legally before he turned to illegal means to obtain performance enhancing drugs.