Baseball player Alex Rodriguez allegedly tested positive for Testosterone and Primobolan (methenolone) in 2003 when he was the American League’s Most Valuable Player according to a (SI) report this weekend. The media and public attention has since largely focused on the accusation of steroid use itself rather than the more troubling concerns that government officials may have illegally leaked the name of Alex Rodriguez in violation of a court-imposed gag order. Furthermore, it appears more and more likely that the federal government illegally obtained the testing sample and results in the first place (“ ,” February 9).
The judge in the Barry Bonds perjury case could find BALCO prosecutors, investigators or officials in contempt if evidence connects them to the leak of formerly anonymous 2003 Major League baseball drug tests that resulted in allegations that Alex Rodriguez took steroids.
A source familiar with the proceedings between the government and MLB players union said, It is not possible this was leaked without there being a violation of the law.
The list of name of 104 MLB baseball players who tested positive for anabolic steroids as part of Major League Baseball’s “non-disciplinary and anonymous” steroid testing in 2003. The seizure of the list and testing samples is the subject of a lawsuit by the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) against the federal government. A gag order has been imposed on all parties involved in the case preventing the leaking of names under the penalty of contempt of court.
Two former prosecutors said it was likely that Judge Susan Illston, who is presiding over the Bonds case, would order contempt hearings. The Rodriguez disclosure is especially serious because Illston and other federal judges had ruled that this was information [the government] wasn’t entitled to, said Charles La Bella, a former U.S. Attorney who practices criminal defense in San Diego. It’s unfair to tarnish an individual based on that illegally seized information.
The case of Major League Baseball Players v. United States of America has reached the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals where arguments were heard by an eleven member panel of judges in December 2008. There are strong indications that the Court will rule against the government seizure of MLB steroid users (“?,” February 9).
Judge Milan Smith was quoted in that story saying the idea that the government is allowed to seize computer databases containing all types of information while on narrowly focused investigations “would probably be frightening to the public because there’s no end to it.”
The hypocritical moral indignation involving steroids in sports should never justify the arbitrary targetting of athletes in steroid inquisition much less gross violations of law by the federal government.