Over the weekend, New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was identified as having tested positive for steroid use in 2003. Today, he admitted to using performance enhancing drugs from 2001 to 2003. While the highest paid player in baseball history may suffer permanent damage to his legacy, the leak of his positive test in 2003 may have been a crime.
As the New York Times reported, in 2003, to determine whether it needed to institute a mandatory testing system, Major League Baseball (MLB) randomly tested its players for steroids. At that point, there was no MLB penalty for using steroids. According to Sports Illustrated, 104 players tested positive and one was Alex Rodriguez.
If baseball tested him positive in 2003, one might wonder why we are just hearing about it now? The answer is that results of the 2003 tests were never to have been revealed, and maybe never would have been if not for the long-running Barry Bonds and Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (BALCO) saga.
The Times reports that as part of the Bonds and BALCO probes, in 2004, investigators raided Comprehensive Drug Testing (CDT), the company the MLB used to perform its 2003 testing. Investigators first seized samples and testing information from CDT for the 10 players at issue in the Bonds and BALCO probes. A month later, they reportedly returned and seized samples and information regarding all 104 players who tested positive in 2003, based on a master list of all the positive tests found in a search of the CDT labs.
According to Sports Illustrated, the results of MLB's 2003 testing program were meant to remain anonymous. According to the New York Times, negative results (such as the 2003 Bonds test later retested and now at issue in his perjury case) were to have been destroyed within 30 days.
Currently, information on the 104 who tested positive in 2003 is filed under seal in the Bonds case. Additionally, Yahoo Sports reports that U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston and two other federal judges previously ordered that anyone leaking the sealed information would be in contempt of court.
Sports illustrated cites two unnamed sources familiar with the government's case, and two unnamed sources familiar with the 2003 testing, as confirming that ARod tested positive in 2003. This means that if investigators or prosecutors leaked the info, they very well could have committed a crime. Contempt proceedings in the BALCO fiasco would be nothing new. The LA Times reported in 2007 that one defense attorney in the BALCO case pled guilty to two counts of contempt of court for leaking sealed testimony to reporters.
For his part, Rodriguez has admitted in an interview with ESPN to using steroids for a three year period with the Texas Rangers, but states that his years in New York have been clean. For ARod, the cat’s out of the bag. It also may be out of the bag for anyone involved with the Bonds or BALCO cases who may have committed a crime by leaking the juice on ARod.