Suspensions show MLB's drug tests are working -- or that they aren't

By Danny Knobler | Baseball Insider
Bartolo Colon is the fifth player this season suspended for PED use. (US Presswire)

First Melky Cabrera, and now Bartolo Colon.

No. First Guillermo Mota, then Freddy Galvis, then Marlon Byrd, then Cabrera, then Colon.

That's two drug suspensions in a week, and five for the season, the most in the big leagues in one year since 2007.

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That proves baseball's drug testing system works.

Or that it doesn't.

Either one could be true. They can't both be true.

So which is it?

I wish I knew. I wish anyone could know.

If there's never a failed test, the system isn't working, because it's inconceivable that no one is trying to cheat. But if there are too many failed tests, then maybe Victor Conte is right, and half the players in baseball really are cheating.

Baseball is serious about testing. One club executive said Wednesday that you wouldn't believe the number of times a year a tester shows up unannounced, in the ninth inning of a game, to administer postgame tests. There are unannounced pregame tests, too.

But the new trend seems to be towards fast-acting, fast-out-of-the-system synthetic testosterone.

Are there better ways to test? Perhaps there are.

Would stiffer penalties make cheating riskier? Sure, to a point.

But the rewards are great, and some players will always try to beat the system.

Five suspensions this year shows baseball is serious about trying to clean it up. Five suspensions this year also shows the problems are real and very possibly growing again.

Does it mean the system is working? Or does it mean it isn't?

I wish I knew.

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