By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Red Sox starter Rick Porcello spoke out against MLB’s drug-testing policy during the team’s weekend series at Yankee Stadium, calling for lifetime bans on players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs for the first time. Current rules do not impose permanent bans until the third positive test.READ MORE: Saugus Man Killed In Crash On I-95 In Newburyport
Porcello harkened back to his time with the Detroit Tigers when the team lost a one-game playoff to the Minnesota Twins to end their season. Though ostensibly not calling out any particular player, he doesn’t see how players who had already tested positive for PEDs should even be allowed the opportunity to affect such games.
“In 2009, it came down to Game 163 for us, and with the two wild cards and all the teams that are competitive this year, one game could mean the difference,” said Porcello, speaking to the New York Daily News. “We play 162 games and you have a lot of time to separate yourself. But if you’re that evenly matched, and it comes down to one game, and somebody who tested positive hits a three-run home run against you, or throws seven shutout innings or closes the game, that’s impacting your season.”
Porcello started that game and allowed a two-run home run to Minnesota’s Jason Kubel, who never failed a drug test in his career. Kubel has not played in the major leagues since 2014.
The current policy, in place since the beginning of the 2014 season, imposes an 80-game suspension for a first-time offender, followed by a 162-game suspension for a second offense and a lifetime ban for the third offense. New York Mets reliever Jennry Mejia became the first player to ever be permanently banned after being caught for a third time on February 12.
It may appease Porcello that players suspended for PEDs are banned from postseason play that same season, regardless of whether the suspension had been served. But he still believes a zero-tolerance kind of policy, as harsh as it may be, is what baseball really needs to rid the game of doping entirely.READ MORE: Fourth Stimulus Check: Is Another Relief Payment Coming Soon?
“Obviously, what’s going on right now is not preventing guys from [using PEDs],” he said. “This year, there’s a guy that literally tested positive three times. That’s obviously not effective. I’m all in favor for a much, much more severe punishment or a lifetime ban. At the end of the day, it’s looking like that’s the only thing that’s going to keep guys from doing it. If that ever happens, we’ll find out if that’s even enough.”
If Porcello’s idea were in place, lifetime bans would have been levied against Manny Ramirez, Melky Cabrera, Ryan Braun, Bartolo Colon, Nelson Cruz, and Alex Rodriguez, among dozens of others. Despite his strong feelings on PED abusers, Porcello doesn’t claim to know an easy solution, either.
“There’s no right or wrong answer right now, but I think there at least needs to be some adjustments for sure.”
The MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement expires after the 2016 season, so Porcello and others appear to be ramping up their efforts to institute an even stricter policy on PEDs than what is currently in place.UMass Lowell Closed Due To 'Possible Cybersecurity Incident'
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. His opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.