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opinion: Baseball has to decide what is the purpose of suspensions for PEDs

In the progression of the BioGenesis scandal, there is the circumstance of Bartolo Colon and Melky Cabrera. These players have already served PED suspensions for failed drug tests. Furthermore these drug tests failures were for the same period of time in which players are suspected of using BioGenesis' banned substances.

When considering punishments, it must be considered what would it mean to penalize these players from information gleaned from BioGenesis and conversely what would be the implications of considering their previous penalties sufficient for any BioGenesis-related transgressions?

The latter is probably the easier to cover. If these players are not punished again, then it would mean that a 50-game suspension is considered sufficient punishment for a player playing in MLB while using banned substances for not just a single game, but for a period of time. The alternative is a bit more complicated. If the players are punished again, then it means baseball has decided that any punishment meted out may be considered only for the single banned substance use which triggered the failed drug test. This can mean, in effect, that every injection is an additional transgression and therefore any evidence of a player found to have using PEDs over a period of time can be 3 simultaneous strikes and permanent ban.

Baseball must decide which of these circumstances is the case and go on record about it. To decide on this in the heat of an event will seem inherently unfair, so baseball should decide ahead of time so the players and management can know the rules.

Additionally, MLB must decide whether the PED suspensions are intended to be the entirety of the penalties or is the PED suspension supposed to be a dark cloud on the players further penalizing players by crimping their future earnings after the suspensions. This issue comes to a point because Colon and Cabrera found employment in MLB the season after their suspensions and before the BioGenesis scandal broke open. In this circumstance there is the possibility that Cabrera or Colon could face further suspensions (or bans) if evidence is found that they used banned substances more than once in the period during which they were already penalized for.

One must remember that players are in the employ of management for what they do on the field. If a player is suspended, he cannot contribute to a successful campaign. So if a player can be penalized in 2013 or 2014 for actions in 2012 then any suspicion of drug use reduces a players' value because owners are less likely to pick up a player who may be suspended when he is needed most even if management had a panoptic ability to verify these players have not broken the PED under their new contracts. This is most poignant in the case of Cabrera, who is in the employ of a new team. The Royals could be punished for actions which did not even occur during the period in which Cabrera was a Royal.

Baseball must decide if suspensions are supposed to be sufficient punishment or if they are meant to brand a player as a warning to future employers.

Lastly, there is the issue of risk of penalizing teams for the actions of players in their employ. Baseball does not allow individual teams to enforce the MLB drug policy, instead it all comes from the top. This being the case, what punishment to teams is just for the actions of players on their rosters? Is it just that As suffer in 2013 because they didn't stop Bartolo Colon using in 2012? Is it just that the KC Royals suffer because they didn't stop Melky Cabrera from using in San Francisco in 2012?

The supply pool of talent is limited and rosters are too, when selecting a player, teams are also deciding against other players based upon a sum-total evaluation of performance which includes the risk that the player won't be able to play due to injury, suspension (including permanent) or even death. A team decides to sign a player because their likely performance (or performance to price ratio) is greater than that of another player. But this calculation becomes difficult if a player can be suspended for any action which has occurred in their professional career to this point. Older players become inherently riskier. A player's past becomes an inescapable liability to his employer.

In the worst case, any player can be blackmailed by any entity which has information of past transgressions, regardless of any intervening time period or punishments. In the extreme worst case, a team could try to control a players' future postings if it has knowledge of a players' past actions.

If players are expected to continue their careers after discontinuing PED use and a possible PED use suspension, baseball must decide on a statute of limitations for PED punishments.

Furthermore the concept that clubs are simultaneously at some level of risk for players' transgressions and not part of the MLB drug policy may have to be addressed.

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