There was a time, not too long ago, when anti-PED folks chided Major League Baseball for its allegedly unserious approach to drug testing and enforcement. Many of them, including columnists and so-called anti-doping experts, said that unless and until MLB adopted the same standards as groups like WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency, or its U.S. counterpart, USADA, it was signaling its intent to look the other way. Some even suggested that baseball let WADA or USADA simply take over baseball’s anti-drug efforts.
Many of us scoffed at such suggestions for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being WADA and USADA’s standards seemed unrealistic for professional baseball and, well, the fact that those organization’s have a historic penchant for seemingly spending more time on self-perpetuation than anything else.
But I guess there was always the fact that they’re crazily ineffective too, as this article in The New York Times makes clear. Specifically, in 2012 a Russian Olympic athlete sent a letter to WADA blowing the whistle on fellow Russian Olympians’ drug use, with names, dates and specifics. What did WADA do?
WADA, the global regulator of doping in Olympic sports, did not begin an inquiry, even though a staff lawyer circulated the message to three top officials, calling the accusations “relatively precise,” including names and facts. Instead, the agency did something that seemed antithetical to its mission to protect clean athletes. It sent Ms. Pishchalnikova’s email to Russian sports officials — the very people who she said were running the doping program.
Baseball’s anti-doping efforts haven’t always been fantastic, and its habit of cooperating with drug dealers in order to go after users in far harder fashion has never been the best look. But it’s damn sight better than punishing whistleblowers and letting drug use it knows about go unexamined and unpunished for several years, resulting in scandal.