Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig wants stiffer penalties for users of performance-enhancing drugs. MLB Players' Association union chief Michael Weiner wants the same thing, and players are in "active discussions" to get the ball rolling on that very thing. One such player is Boston's own Dustin Pedroia, as the Red Sox second baseman wants everyone on the same playing field, and for the game to be viewed as pure.
Pedroia is a client of ACES, the agency at the center of the Melky Cabrera PED cover-up from 2012, as well as the one most associated with the current Biogenesis scandal in Miami. ACES accounts for five of the 12 released names in the Biogenesis reports at present, but they represent under five percent of the total represented player population, according to the agency listings at MLB Trade Rumors. Small sample, yes, but between the Melky cover-up and multiple players leaving the agency in the wake of that scandal and now this one does make you wonder. Pedroia will have you know, though, that he shouldn't be associated with some of the other ACES clients who have had their names in the news, even if he hasn't bolted. From Peter Abraham:
But at least four ACES clients - including Red Sox players Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes - left the agency in the wake of the reports.
Pedroia said he considered doing the same but did not after consulting with MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner and following the results of Major League Baseball's investigation.
"It's a difficult thing because those guys have done right by me," Pedroia said. "But I asked a lot of questions. I wanted to know what was going on. You have to be educated about things like that."
More intriguing from that informative piece by Abraham, though, is how Pedroia goes about vetting supplements:
Pedroia said the excuse that a player didn't realize he was using a performance-enhancing drug isn't valid.
"In my opinion, no," he said. "We have a lot of information. I know we have one of the best drug-testing policies in sports. They give us packets on what supplements you can or can't take. We're educated on what supplements you can take."
Pedroia then showed reporters an application on his smartphone that lists approved supplements and nutritional products. He said he takes a second step by bringing products directly to the Red Sox to approve before he takes them.
"As players you're responsible to know what you put into your body," Pedroia said. "We have strength coaches, trainers, everybody gives us information on everything you can take and what's good for you. We get our blood work and we deal with nutritionists."
Pedroia's regimen for figuring out if supplements are valid or not makes it sound as if players who get caught are either intentionally cheating, or didn't put in the work to find out if they might be cheating by taking a specific substance: neither of those is a valid excuse. It more than sounds as if MLB players have the tools and resources at their disposal to determine whether or not they should be ingesting, injecting, or imbibing specific supplements. It's encouraging to see someone be so forthcoming about said resources, and even more so to see the players' union and specific players speaking out against PED-users.
Performance-enhancers can dominate the news cycle, but if the union is this intent on squashing those who are found to be using, the percentage of users is likely lower than current perception grants. Hearing more players like Pedroia speak out -- and enacting harsher penalties -- can only help with that perception.