CBSSports.com MLB writer Jon Heyman received an unusually pitying introduction when he came on The Morning Show. The mock somberness had a purpose, though: to emphasize the soul-crushing nature of baseball’s ongoing PED discussion.
The brewing controversy this time around involves Tony Bosch and the Biogenesis clinic, which has reportedly distributed performance-enhancing drugs to at least 15 Major League players, including Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun.
With the league investigating and potential suspensions looming on the horizon, the commissioner’s office and the players union are at a standstill. Many of the accused, most notably Braun, are refusing to answer investigators’ questions on the matter, while the league is on the precipice of uncharted territory if it intends to issue PED suspensions without any failed drug tests.
“I think the union and the lawyers are very likely to file grievance, challenge it,” Heyman explains to Tiki Barber, Brandon Tierney, and Dana Jacobson. “There isn’t a failed test — even with a test Braun challenged it and he prevailed, as we know.”
This has all the makings of a landmark case — not just for baseball, but for all professional sports. Depending on the ruling, it will shape the future of PED-related punishments as it pertains to the minimum amount of proof necessary to issue a suspension and what constitutes repeat offense of these rules.
Such a momentous decision means two things for sure: this will get ugly, and it will take forever.
“I think this is going to drag on awhile,” Heyman admits. “I don’t think any suspensions are going to come to fruition anytime soon. They may issue the suspensions, but the players may challenge right away, and I really doubt any player will just accept the suspension.”
“That would be very surprising — certainly not Braun or A-Rod would accept the suspension — because there is no failed test. Circumstantial evidence — it may be overwhelming, as you say, we’ll find out,” he adds.
Feeling a blend of fatigue and sanctimoniousness, the fans have had enough with performance-enhancing drugs. As Heyman puts it, the public outrage over this perpetually coming up as an issue far is disproportionate to the reaction to truly heinous crime in sports.
“Of course, baseball is the national pastime, so it’s probably held to a higher standard,” he tells Barber. “I mean, look, your sport’s got an accused murderer, and people are complaining more about the PEDs than they are about this fellow who is accused of shooting multiple people.”
According to Heyman, there is no timetable for a final ruling once the appeals start rolling in. It is very likely that it will stretch through the end of the regular season, possibly even extending into free agency.
“In terms of the winter, I don’t know, it’s probably better to have this hashed out during the winter than during the season,” he argues. “Baseball, they understand that it’s not going to be pretty trying to clean it up. And this is part of the process.”