Baseball's full of cheaters

Investigator George J. Mitchell points to a reporter as he announces results of his 20-month investigation into performance-enhancing drug use in baseball.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

KAI RYSSDAL: There is no joy in Mudville, because baseball's full of cheaters. Former Senator George Mitchell's report on illegal drug use in the major leagues was released today. Every team in the league had either a player or former player on the list. Kurt Badenhausen's an editor at Forbes. Good to have you here.

KURT BADENHAUSEN: Oh thanks for having me on.

RYSSDAL: We wanted to ask you about the distribution system for some of these steroids. Senator Mitchell mentioned club house attendants and personal athletic trainers. There was also mention of some online pharmacies and what he called "rejuvenation centers." How did that work?

BADENHAUSEN: Well the rejuvenation centers have been pushing HGH, human growth hormone, for a long time as an anti-aging process, and so, you know before the anti-aging thing got big, smart trainers and hangers-on for these players, and doctors for that matter, were pushing players towards anti-aging clinics, and you know, that was a prime source for human growth hormone for these guys

RYSSDAL: And all they really needed was an address and a credit card number and a doctor's signature on a prescription scrip, and boom it shows up at the doorstep, basically.

BADENHAUSEN: That's all it takes, you know and major league baseball does not test for HGH. They still don't test for it, because they can't test it through urine. They can only test it through blood, and so HGH is still a problem in major league baseball, without a doubt.

RYSSDAL: It seems like a reasonably fool-proof business model for these online pharmacies. All you have to do is you get the credit card number and you ship out the drug.

BADENHAUSEN: Yeah without a doubt. I mean online pharmacies have sprouted up over the last few years, and are a very lucrative business, as long as you can find the doctors willing to sign prescriptions, and there are plenty of them out there willing to do it.

RYSSDAL: Let me ask you about labor relations here for a second. Senator Mitchell mentioned the players union several times today. Will anything change, with regard to steroids in baseball, or drugs in baseball, if there isn't some kind of movement in labor management relations?

BADENHAUSEN: Well things have changed. I mean everything, well not everything, but most of the stuff in the Mitchell report is detailing what went on, you know late 90s early 2000s. You know major league baseball has just gotten their act together, to some degree, in terms of testing. The problem is there is no HGH test right now that can be done through urine. It's not just a major league baseball problem, but you know major league baseball, for some reason, gets an undue amount of scrutiny for their drug policy.

RYSSDAL: Are you a fan of the game?

BADENHAUSEN: Yeah, I'm a big baseball fan.

RYSSDAL: This going to keep you out of the seats next season?

BADENHAUSEN: Not at all. I don't think it will keep anybody out of the seats next season. I mean baseball is more popular than ever. You know we've seen revenues you know up five-fold over the last 15 years, set an attendance record last year. I bet you they'll break that record this year, probably draw 80 million people. You know some of the poor-performing franchises like Detroit, Milwaukee, even Kansas City, you know things are really looking up in those cities, and they're continuing to increase attendance, and I see that happening in 2008 as well.

RYSSDAL: Kurt Badenhausen at Forbes magazine. He's an editor there. Kurt thanks a lot for your time.

BADENHAUSEN: Alright, my pleasure.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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