More drug test drama

February, 4, 2009
02/04/09
12:33
PM ET
So, why did Barry Bonds' urine test come up negative the first time but positive the second?

Here's Will Carroll:

    Simple. THG wasn't known at the time. Drug testing works like a mug book on Law & Order. The witness flips through a book and when they see the face, they point. If the picture isn't there, they won't find it. Drug tests look for drugs they know and have the chemical profile for. (It's more technical than this, but that's the basic metaphor.) Since THG was unknown and no test existed, it wasn't found. Once it was known, the profile was added and it was easily detected.

    What's more interesting is that the master list of players that tested positive is in the possession of the IRS, seized as part of a raid on Comprehensive Drug Testing. I won't get into the constitutional or legal issues here, but with some of the evidence about to be unsealed heading into Bonds' trial, that list may well come public. Whether it's 96 or 103 -- the number varies depending on your source -- there's going to be names that weren't included in the Mitchell Report, which was not given access to that seized 'master list.' If not unsealed, well, nothing else in this case has stayed secret long.

    We've seen the government's playbook on this in two previous trials, plus pleas to many in the BALCO case. It's unlikely that Barry Bonds is facing more time in jail than Marion Jones, but in the meantime, the page that baseball hoped was turned by the Mitchell report just got [p---ed] on.

When the Mitchell report was released, I was repeatedly asked (by radio hosts) whether we were finally past all this stuff. My response was that of course we were not, and (of course) history has been kind to that opinion. With each year, we'll have new salacious memoirs, new unsealed court documents and new tests for old drugs. So instead of forgetting about steroids and their ilk, we're going to be reminded, again and again and again, that the players found a new edge -- sometimes a real edge, sometimes not -- and that many of them were only too happy to take advantage of that edge. And we'll just have to live with it.

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