Here’s Victor Conte — infamous since his BALCO days — on the current state of drug use in Major League Baseball:
How many players do you think are still using things that are banned by baseball?:
"A significant percentage. Way back in 2004, I said that I felt 50 percent were using steroids and 80 percent were using stimulants. The numbers are obviously less now, but I think it’s a significant portion. … I’m including the offseason, where they really don’t do testing. … When you’re considering offseason and during the season, it may have dropped, but still 30 or 40 percent?"
I think Conte’s exaggerating about the percentages because he’s got a good reason to exaggerate. That said, I’m not convinced his percentages — particularly for the earlier period — are really so far off. I do believe that roughly half the major leaguers were using steroids (etc.) at least experimentally, 10 years ago. And we know a huge percentage of them were on stimulants. They used amphetamines like college students drink coffee and Red Bull.
His “30 or 40 percent” today, though? It wouldn’t shock me, considering that nobody’s tested during the off-season.
I’ve said this before, and here it is again: MLB doesn’t really care if players use drugs. What MLB cares about is the perception that players are using drugs. And as wrong-headed as it might seem, the perception is that drug use has dropped to almost nothing.