Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Interlopers

Murray Chass lays into the World and U.S. Anti-Doping Agencies:
The steroids zealots known as the boys from WADA want to save Major League Baseball from itself. Major League Baseball, a high-ranking official of the World Anti-Doping Agency proclaims, is a sport in turmoil. That’s the word he used — turmoil . . .

. . . But where is the turmoil? Despite the Mitchell report, teams have sold more tickets this winter than any previous winter. A fifth consecutive record-breaking season attendance is on the horizon . . . There may be fans who didn’t want to see Barry Bonds set a steroids-fueled home run record, but they will boo Bonds himself, not the entire sport of baseball. There are fans who will watch Congressional games this week and the next and shake their heads at some of the developments. But if Henry A. Waxman unmasks Roger Clemens as a prevaricator, those fans will direct their criticism and their disappointment and their disillusionment not at baseball but at Clemens himself.
Chass then winds up and says something I've been thinking for a while:
WADA and its domestic relative, Usada — that is, the United States Anti-Doping Agency — are not my favorite organizations. I have always felt that every time their officials spoke, every time they criticized baseball’s steroids-testing program, their words dripped with dollar signs.
Chass backs off of that some, noting that WADA and Usada are not-for-profit organizations, but just because you're not-for-profit doesn't mean you don't have an interest in self-promotion that eclipses your stated mission (see PETA). For months now, reporters have been quoting WADA or Usada officials in steroid stories, portraying them as an all-loving, all-knowing force of benevolent change, and all I can wonder is who called who first?

My sense of them has been more akin to that bothersome and sanctimonious old aunt who tries to nose her way into some young couple's marital issues. "Yes Margaret, we know you and Harry have been married for 37 years, but if Janet and I are going to make it, we're going to need to work this out for ourselves, so butt the hell out, OK?"

UPDATE: Reader Roger Moore notes in the comments below:

I work for a non-profit, and let me assure you that the "non-profit" status applies only to the organization. The people in the organization- especially higher-ups- can profit personally by advancing the organization's goals. You can bet that the leaders of WADA and USADA are paying themselves very well. I'm sure that they'd consider getting MLB to agree to their testing would be worth a nice bonus and raise.


Worth notin'

2 comments:

Pete Toms said...

You and Mr. Chass are preaching to the choir. Screw WADA ( my Canada never included Dick Pound - Diesel might get that wisecrack ).

Roger Moore said...

I work for a non-profit, and let me assure you that the "non-profit" status applies only to the organization. The people in the organization- especially higher-ups- can profit personally by advancing the organization's goals. You can bet that the leaders of WADA and USADA are paying themselves very well. I'm sure that they'd consider getting MLB to agree to their testing would be worth a nice bonus and raise.

Besides, there's an obvious problem with pointing out the Mitchell report as a sign that MLB is in turmoil: it's all about pre-testing days. Yes, MLB had problems with rampant drug use, but now it's doing something about it. They've instituted a testing policy that has substantial penalties and has succeeded in catching some big name players. An optimist could even say that the Mitchell report shows a laudable willingness to look into past problems. Forgiving fans can claim that the worst of the turmoil is past, and MLB is now pushing forward. Why would they need WADA now that they're making real progress on their own?