It's a sad irony that on the same day Alex Rodriguez finalized his record-setting $252 million contract with the New York Yankees in December of 2007, former Sen. George Mitchell was releasing the so-called Mitchell Report, lifting the lid on Major League baseball's steroid scandal. A-Rod wasn't in it, but within two years he would join the parade of ballplayers who have had their reputations and accomplishments diminished or destroyed through their connection to performance-enhancing drugs.
Now, with just weeks to go before spring training camps open, baseball had hoped to take a major step towards restoring the sport's credibility. For the first time, the MLB will be conducting random, in-season testing for human growth hormone. Instead, new reports from the Miami New Times represent a step back, implicating big-name ballplayers including Rodriguez, Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz, Nationals' pitcher Gio Gonzalez and the Blue Jays' new $16 million dollar man, Melky Cabrera, in a doping scandal linked to a Miami-area clinic.
Mitchell, whose report helped lead to new rules regarding drug testing, said the problem isn't going away. "Every society has laws against robbery and murder, yet everyone knows that robbery and murder are not going to end. It's managing an ongoing human problem. That's the case with performance-enhancing drugs," Mitchell told Chuck Todd on The Daily Rundown. "It's a problem of...keeping pace, reducing the incentives to use and...increasing vigilance, regulation and punishment for those who use." Major League Baseball released a statement saying its in the midst of an "active investigation" into the latest allegations and noted that the developments amount to proof that anti-drug efforts are working.
Mitchell says the sport has its hands full trying to clamp down on cheaters. "In many parts of the world, including the United States, there are people engaged in illegal businesses trying to develop new performance-enhancing drugs that can escape detection. They try to stay one step ahead of the regulators and the testers." Nevertheless, the former Senator says there's no need to get the federal government involved. "Not at the moment, I don't think so," he said. "Let's wait and see what happens."