Thursday, May 7, 2009

May 11: MLB Needs To Investigate Latin American Steroid/HGH Pipeline

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Manny Ramirez' troubles illustrate the holes that remain in Major League Baseball's policing of illegal substances.

There was a missing piece in the 2007 Mitchell Report about steroids and other banned substances in baseball, and it may have been the biggest piece: The Latin American-Caribbean connection.

There is no equivalent to this country's Food and Drug Administration in many of the other countries in the Western Hemisphere. Most ballplayers from countries in the Caribbean and South America go back to their home countries during the off-season, and can easily obtain steroids, human growth hormone and other substances banned from over-the-counter sale in the United States.

Some representatives for the caught players have screamed discrimination against Latin ballplayers. That's nonsense. To the contrary, Major League Baseball is still letting many of the countries its players come from get away with being pipelines for banned substances.

Baseball is big business in those countries. Recruitment of ballplayers starts when they are young (So young, in some cases, that some major league teams have gotten in trouble for signing underage players.). Baseball academies have sprung up like mushrooms after constant rain. For many ballplayers who come from poverty, baseball is manna.

If Major League Baseball is serious about stopping this completely, beyond the 50-game suspensions, it should issue an ultimatum to these countries: Stop the steroids/HGH pipelines, or we leave.

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