Rays’ outfielder Carlos Gomez joined Jeff Passan, Tim Brown, and Mike Oz on the Yahoo Sports MLB Podcast this week, and he had strong thoughts on the way the league drug tests players. Specifically, the players they are drug testing and how often they do it.
In the wake of Robinson Cano’s 80-game suspension, Gomez spoke out about feeling targeted by MLB drug tests (which are overseen by an Independent Program Administrator who has no connection to the league of the Office of the Commissioner), specifically the frequency with which he is tested.
On the podcast segment, which will be released in full later this week, Gomez said of the “randomness” of MLB drug tests,
“It’s not random. It’s not random. I can put my hand on fire, it’s not random. They pick guys. I think it’s something the way you play, the way you act … I’m the oldest guy on the team. I get here earlier than everybody. Why? Because I have to work harder to maintain my body to support the rest of the season. When I do that and they come to you and have a drug test every time, you get furious. You get mad. One month into the season I got like seven drug tests. Something like that. Between five or seven. That’s not right. We have a guy on the team who for sure hasn’t had one drug test.”
In regards to Cano’s suspension specifically, Gomez pointed out he’d tested clean for 15 years of his career until now, and this mark will now follow him forever. He added circumstances like that make him worried about what he could accidentally take or be given that would trigger a positive drug test.
I panic. I’m at home in the Dominican, every time I go on vacation I need to call them that I’m going to be that way. I’m going to be there, here, like it’s uncomfortable because anywhere they can show up and give you a test. In the Dominican last time twice. And this year I’ve gotten as many drug tests as anyone on the team. Fine, you can do it, but it’s embarrassing. After the game you come to celebrate and they grab you, ‘you need to pee’ or ‘we need your blood.’ In one week I had two blood tests. Two in one week. I mean, like, what are you looking for?
Gomez raised further concerns about what players are actually being suspended for. Especially when it comes to taking things for other conditions or temporary needs.
If I get the flu I’m going to take that medicine for the flu, not to perform better on the field … But you guys know already that it’s nothing related to baseball why you suspended that guy. If the organization find what the guy uses exactly and it’s something to help the performance, you suspend him. But if it’s something like for health, it’s not fair.”
MLB has one of the most (if not the outright most) comprehensive drug tests out of all North American professional sports, and Cano won’t be the last high profile player to get caught for PED’s or a masking agent. If the masses continue to support baseball’s unending crusade to rid the sport of drugs (which will never happen) then that’s how it’s going to be.
But it is worth asking why the drug policy doesn’t cap the number of tests by season, like the NBA does, or at least by week or month to give players a break. Psychologically, being tested this often can be taxing. Players shouldn’t feel like they are constantly under surveillance while the league pretends it’s routine drug testing.
Putting certain players through that but not others, whether that’s intentional or not, is unfair, and if other players start coming forward with concerns about the frequency of tests or feeling like certain nationalities are being targeted more than others, the league is going to have to start explaining why that’s the case.