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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Did he or didn't he?

The question of whether Rafael Palmeiro is guilty is on the minds of most baseball fans. I'll have to admit that I remain skeptical that Palmeiro knowingly took steroids given his public stands and the fact that his appearance and performancedidn't raise any red flags. Of course the jury is obviously still out.

On that question, however, Will Carroll had a great article on BP that will disappear tomorrow. In part he says:

Is it plausible that Palmeiro did not take steroids?

This is a multi-part question. First, did Palmeiro have a “false positive?” That is a statistical improbability based on information gained during research for “The Juice.” The collection and testing procedures are designed specifically to guard against this occurrence. Second, could Palmeiro be suspended for a substance that is not a steroid? Yes. Palmeiro was very precise in his statement, saying that he was being suspended for taking a banned substance, not for a steroid. All banned substances are not steroids, though all steroids are banned substances, even if not known under the “catch-all” provision of the Policy. It is however, extremely unlikely that this is the case. While the Minor League Policy bans a long list of substances, the Major League Policy is much narrower, banning only steroids and “drugs of abuse,” such as cocaine and heroin. (See this document, obtained by Congress during the spring hearings. MLB indicated at the time that these were not the final documents.) Finally, could Palmeiro test positive for steroids without having knowingly taking them? Again, it is possible, though not plausible.

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