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A-Rod and the case for stronger incentives not to dope

Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees looks on during batting practice against the Detroit Tigers during game four of the American League Championship Series at Comerica Park on October 18, 2012 in Detroit, Mich.

Major League Baseball is weighing whether to ban New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez from the game for life for using performance-enhancing drugs. Up until now, the MLB has been relatively lenient when it comes to punishing players caught doping up. Is this a tipping point for the game?

Whether players will really change all comes down to the incentives. "Especially for the very top guys," says Toby Moskowitz, professor at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business. "I'm not even sure a financial incentive is the right way to think about it. These guys have made plenty of money. It's more about their place in history."

But this logic only applies to the kind of players that already have millions in the bank. Moskowitz says the bigger problem in baseball -- and the one we don't really hear about -- is how much doping goes on with minor league players, or lesser-known names.

"If you're coming from a poor background where this is everything for you, you'll do anything you can to make it," he adds. "And that incentive is not going away anytime soon."

On the other side of things, it isn't necessarily in the best interest of the MLB to give more than a slap on the wrist to players either -- they stand to lose lots of money if their biggest players get taken out of the game. "Right now I think the game is in a bit of limbo," Moskowitz says. "They're in a funny situation and they're struggling with what to do."

About the author

Lizzie O'Leary is the new host of Marketplace Weekend.

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