May 13, 2009

Lou Merloni's Steroid Accusations

I assume everyone has heard this by now.

Last Saturday morning, May 9, Lou Merloni said the following on Comcast SportsNet's The Baseball Show (first reported at Dirt Dogs):
I'm in spring training, and I got an 8:30-9:00 meeting in the morning. I walk into that office, and this happened while I was with the Boston Red Sox before this last regime, I'm sitting in the meeting. There's a doctor up there and he's talking about steroids, and everyone was like "here we go, we're gonna sit here and get the whole thing -- they're bad for you." No. He spins it and says "you know what, if you take steroids and sit on the couch all winter long, you can actually get stronger than someone who works out clean, if you're going to take steroids, one cycle won't hurt you, abusing steroids it will." He sat there for one hour and told us how to properly use steroids while I'm with the Boston Red Sox, sitting there with the rest of the organization, and after this I said "what the heck was that?" And everybody on the team was like "what was that?" And the response we got was "well, we know guys are taking it, so we want to make sure they're taking it the right way" ... Where did that come from? That didn't come from the Player's Association.
The following evening, the Globe's Nick Cafardo noted that Merloni
did not remember who the doctor was who spoke to the team [though he says it was not Dr. Arthur Pappas] ... [and] couldn't remember whether the meeting took place in 2001 or whether it was in his first stint with the Red Sox in 1996-1997.
Cafardo also spoke with former Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette:
It's totally unfounded. Who was the doctor? Tell me who the doctor is? If there was such a doctor he wasn't in the employ of the Red Sox. We brought in doctors to educate the players on the major league drug policy at the time at the recommendation of major league baseball. This is so ridiculous I hate to even respond to it.
Troy O'Leary, who played for the Red Sox from 1995-2001:
Don't really remember anything like that. I remember the normal union meetings in spring training where they'd talk about drugs and steroids, and I remember doctors talking negatively about them, but I don't remember ever hearing anything like OK, this is the right way to do steroids. If that happened I missed that one.
Merloni and Duquette also appeared on WEEI (partial transcript).

Duke says the club never encouraged players to take steroids, but
We had people come in and educate players about the risks of utilizing steroids. Yes we did. I thought that was very important. A lot of guys that started using steroids and didn't have medical access to them, there was a lot of health risks ... I thought the most important part of any program that a team could have was educating the players, educating players to the choices they were making, so that they could make an educated choice and avert the health risk. The comment made on Saturday implied that the club was encouraging steroid use or steroid abuse. That wasn't the case.
And Merloni replies:
That's the way some people took it. They took it as someone was up there showing you where to put the needle. That wasn't the case ... I explained it with the analogy of trying to teach your teenage daughter about safe sex. You're not happy that she's having sex, but at the same point, you're going to educate her how to have safe sex. ... you're acknowledging the fact that, you know what, I'm not happy about it, but it's going on.
Absent a video or audio recording of this meeting, any resolution seems highly unlikely. The comments directly above do not sound all that different. Educating players to avoid health risks regarding steroids certainly could be perceived by those players as tacit approval from the club.

SoSher behindthepen:
Mitchell did not find evidence of or allegations of players getting guidance from the teams. But if you read the section starting on pg 77, it's pretty clear that the MLBPA and some people within MLB were pretty supportive of the idea of using PED's, with presentations saying that there is no known health risk, etc. Given that, to me it's not a stretch to believe what Merloni said actually happened. (Mitchell report)
To my knowledge, MLB has not requested a meeting with Merloni -- or made a comment of any kind regarding these accusations.

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