The recent suspension of Alex Rodriguez and 12 other Major League Baseball players for using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) is being heralded by some as a tipping point. Some observers believe commissioner Bud Selig and other league higher-ups will finally rid America’s Pastime of the drug users and cheats seeking to get an edge over opponents, win more awards and “earn” a more millions of dollars.
While many are happy to see that the most recent batch of cheaters got punished, the fact that the list was 13 players deep and included three all-stars and a three-time league MVP demonstrates a painfully obvious fact: the current punishments for PED use are not nearly dire enough to deter cheating and motivate the respectable, clean behavior fans want to see from professional athletes.
The MLB will never rid itself of PEDs until it issues punishments that fit the crime. If the league really wants to get serious about the issue, it could adopt one (or all) of these seven penalties.
Place a PED Clause in Every Contract
One of the greatest motivators for athletes using PEDs is money. So take that shiny object away. Add a clause to every contract stipulating that if a player is found guilty of using PEDs, the contract will be voided and any already paid portion of the contract will have to be repaid by the player.
Erase Cheaters’ Stats
Every stat from every season in which a player used PEDs should be erased from the record books. An asterisk is a slap on the wrist. No longer acknowledging that those stats ever existed is how players know you mean business.
Two Strikes and You’re Out
If a player has two positive tests for PEDs, he should be banished for life. One mistake is tolerable only because the supplement industry is not fully regulated, and tainted supplements do exist. But testing positive twice is more than bad luck—it’s cheating—and your time in baseball should be over.
Vacate Wins and Championships
A player needs to know if he takes PEDs, he’s not only taking a personal gamble, he’s putting his whole team at risk. If other players know that a cheating teammate could cost them a run at the pennant, they are much more likely to shut that player down and not just turn a blind eye, as far too many athletes currently do.
Just as a single player who breaks NCAA rules on a college team can cause the whole team to be punished through stripped titles and vacated championships, the same should apply to MLB. If someone on your team is cheating, your team doesn’t deserve to be called World Champions.
Athletes want to win championships, and the drive to win can tempt some to cut corners and cheat. If you choose the PED route, your team should be banned from post-season play. If it’s more than one player, multi-year bans should be imposed.
Loss of Draft Picks
If more than one player on a team tests positive for PEDs, the team is fostering a PED culture and should be held accountable. College teams lose scholarships. Baseball teams should lose future draft picks.
Ban Managers From the Hall of Fame
Managers are tasked with creating a winning culture within their clubhouse. With that comes a responsibility to ensure that their players are doing the right things to earn their wins. If a manager wins a lot of games, pennants and championships on the backs of PED users, he should not receive accolades while his players face punishment. Any manager who’s found to have coached more than one PED user should be banned from Cooperstown, just as his players should be.