On PED issue, Reinsdorf points to union
White Sox chairman questions Fehr's motives for testing
CHICAGO -- Count White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf as one of the many people intimately involved with Major League Baseball who was surprised by Thursday's 50-game suspension handed down to Manny Ramirez due to the usage of a banned substance.
Regarding Ramirez's actions, Reinsdorf agreed with comments made by his general manager, Ken Williams: "If I enter into a deal with a player with those assumptions, it's incumbent upon them to be above board with everything, and if they're not, I think it is fraud," Williams said.
And when it comes to the ongoing problem regarding these substances used within baseball being tied back to Commissioner Allan H. "Bud" Selig, Reinsdorf strongly disagrees.
Blame for the escalation of the issue over the years falls squarely upon Donald Fehr, the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, according to Reinsdorf.
"The idea that it was Selig's fault that it wasn't caught earlier is nonsense -- it was Donald Fehr's fault that it wasn't caught earlier," Reinsdorf told MLB.com prior to Friday's series opener with the Rangers. "As early as in the early '90s, we were trying to get testing. We were trying to get it in 1990.
"In 1994-95, [Colorado Rockies principal owner] Jerry McMorris, who was our lead negotiator [during the strike] -- he has notes in which he wrote down Don Fehr said to him, 'They will have testing over my dead body.' He said that the only reason you want to catch players is you want to be able to get out of the contracts for high-priced players."
Baseball's drug-testing program now in place is clearly the best one in sports, by Reinsdorf's estimation. Reinsdorf also is involved with the National Basketball Association, as the owner of the Chicago Bulls.
While Reinsdorf believes usage of banned substances isn't a present problem, he won't categorically state with 100 percent certainty that nobody is using them.
"But the chances are if anyone is doing it, he's going to get caught at some point -- particularly, when they develop the test for [human growth hormone]," Reinsdorf said. "It is still possible for players to use HGH and not get caught by a test. There are other ways to catch them because the Commissioner's investigators are all over the place.
"Manny shows us the program is working. This one definitely shocked me. Looking at Manny's body, I never thought he would be on performance-enhancers. It does show that it doesn't matter how big you are -- you get caught, and you are out."
As for fans who have doubts concerning the purity of the game, with the legacy of Alex Rodriguez and Roger Clemens coming into question, all Reinsdorf could say was that baseball is looking for such problems, and "whenever we find it, we are going to deal with it."
"You are going to find that whatever is bad in the general population, you can probably find in any group of 700 or 800 people in smaller amounts," Reinsdorf said. "It will never be pure, because there is always somebody that tries to game the system, whether it's baseball or anything else. In any large group, you are going to find people who don't follow the rules."
These rules could have been enforced earlier in this specific area if not for the dissenting opinion presented by Fehr, Reinsdorf added.
"Progress is here now because Congress made it very clear to Fehr that if you don't have a system that works, we are going to impose one," Reinsdorf said. "He had no choice at that point.
"This is strictly a Don Fehr problem. We could have made a lot of progress a lot earlier if Fehr had agreed to testing."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.