Jose Guillen Linked to HGH; Barred from Post-Season?

Before diving into this question, let’s be clear on a few points. First, the Giants are not exactly missing Guillen’s presence in their lineup.  The guy hit only .266 in 42 games for the Giants, after being traded to SF by KC.  Second, we don’t know exactly what Bud Selig knows about this case, or communicated to the Giants. Third, if you’re looking for a poster boy for the cause that we’re all innocent until proven guilty, Jose Guillen may not be your first choice. He was listed as a user of performance-enhancing drugs in the Mitchell Report. Also, the SF Chronicle has previously reported that Guillen purchased $19,000 of HGH between 2002 and 2005.

But let’s get back to the original question. Can Bud Selig order a team to remove a player from its roster, based on the mere suspicion that the player might have received shipments of performance-enhancing drugs?

Maybe. Quite possibly.

We’re familiar with baseball players who have failed drug tests and received suspensions. But a ballplayer can run afoul of baseball’s anti-doping rules without actually doping. For example, under Section 8E of MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, a player who participates in the sale or distribution of a performance-enhancing drug can be suspended for between 80 and 100 games for a first offense. There is no stated requirement that the player be convicted or plead guilty to this offense (contrast Rule 8D covering possession or use of a prohibited substance, where conviction or a guilty plea is required for a suspension). Moreover, it is the Commissioner who has the authority to impose such a suspension (Rule 1A3). Baseball’s anti-doping rules expressly prohibit teams from punishing players for anti-doping violations (Rule 8L), so the Giants would not have been permitted (acting alone) to remove Guillen from their roster out of anti-doping concerns.

I don’t pretend to be an expert in these rules, but it appears that the Commissioner does have the power to suspend Guillen for participating in the sale or distribution of HGH, even if Guillen has not been convicted (or even formally accused) of anything.  But (and here is the main point), the Commissioner has not suspended Guillen. At least, there’s no indication that Guillen has been suspended. If Guillen had been suspended, he would have had some rudimentary rights under baseball’s anti-doping rules, including the right to have his suspension reviewed by an arbitration panel.  Presumably, there would have been a public announcement.

Instead, it appears that Bud Selig acted outside of baseball’s anti-doping rules, in secret, to make sure that Guillen’s presence in the World Series would not embarrass the grand game of baseball. While we have few facts, it appears that the Giants were more than happy to cooperate with the Commissioner in this effort.  After all, Guillen is a marginal player; his presence would not be missed. Besides, the Giants would not want to have their post-season success tainted by the perception (fair or not) that this success might have been fueled by performance-enhancing drugs.

(You know. Like the success of a certain team located north of New York was impugned by certain people, just because certain stars of this certain team were later linked to certain performance-enhancing drugs.)

So, Guillen was suspended without actually being suspended. So what? No one seems to feel sorry for Guillen. The sport we love has avoided the potential humiliation of having its grand finale (once again) linked with nasty stuff like HGH. This is a good thing … right?

Except for quaint notions a few of us might hold … like respect for due process. Like the belief that everyone deserves the protection of the rules, even guys named in the Mitchell Report, even guys that only hit .266 during the regular season.

Oh, well.  Maybe this will all be cleared up in subsequent reports in the media.  Meanwhile, it’s been quite the entertaining World Series so far!  Very free of scandal.

8 thoughts on “Jose Guillen Linked to HGH; Barred from Post-Season?

  1. The HgH portion of this did not surprise me. The fact that the commish "ordered"/"advised" a team to sit a player for the post-season is shocking to me. What if this wasn't a guy who might have been benched anyway? What if this was, just to pick a name, NLCS MVP Cody Ross? What if Cody Ross wasn't on the roster in the NLCS and the reason was because the Commish ordered the hit?

    One better: What if it was Lincecum?

    Stinky, stinky, stinky.

  2. The lack of due process (such as it is) is absolutely appalling. I'm guessing the union is going to go berserk. It also brings up all sorts of less important questions like, does he get a ring (WS or NLCS?), a playoff share, an invitation to a possible parade?

  3. moooose – It is called "selective due process"….. what a load of crap. If Selig really gave a **** about cleaning up the game, much more would be going on – like more money for research into testing, etc.

  4. Jason, we're speculating here, let's make sure we remember that. I'm making a big deal about one word in the NYT article ("directed") that did not appear anywhere else I've seen. But let's continue to speculate for the moment. Yes, it shocked me too that Selig might be giving orders on who can play in the post-season. But there's no way that Tim "The Freak" Lincecum is going to be ordered off of anyone's lineup. He's the star of this show. My wife watches the games he pitches. I'm not sure about a player like Cody Ross.

    Moose, there are strong rules in place governing the confidentiality of baseball's anti-doping program. (There are people around MLB this morning who are VERY UNHAPPY that this news got leaked.) So to paraphrase the Watergate mantra, we don't know what anyone knows or when they might have learned what they know. My guess (and it's not an informed guess) is that the union was informed of this action in advance, and that they did not object. Selig and the powers that be have a good relationship with the union, and would not jeopardize this relationship over the likes of a Jose Guillen. At least I don't think they would.

    Jill B., MLB has paid a lot of money (in anti-doping terms) in the probably hopeless effort to find a urine test for HGH. (Baseball players don't like giving blood samples.) I plan to write a few articles about MLB's anti-doping program, but I don't think the problem lies with lack of research. The problem lies with the limited number of samples tested from each player each year. It's WAY too easy to cheat a system that tests baseball players a couple of times a year, particularly when one of those tests is scheduled a year in advance.

    Moose, my first blogging "job" was writing about doping testing in pro cycling. I know full well that any anti-doping system depends on a certain amount of stuff being done in secret and outside of the rules. Yes, that's "selective due process", as you said, and we should object when we see it. At the same time, it doesn't work to apply a knee-jerk approach to enforcing all rules as written. Or else you end up like pro cycling has ended up, with the 2010 Tour de France champion potentially facing huge sanctions for (allegedly) accidentally having a tiny amount of doping product in his system, an amount that (allegedly) could not possibly have helped his performance, an amount that (allegedly) entered his system from eating a steak.

    Imagine for the moment that A-Rod and Jeter had eaten a contaminated piece of beef before the 2009 World Series, that both had picked up a tiny amount of a banned drug as a result, and that as a result both had failed a drug test administered during the Series (imagine hard, because I doubt that MLB is administering anti-doping tests during the post-season). You'd want the Commissioner to throw the results of those tests out the window (figuratively, not literally; we care about confidentiality), regardless of what the rules might otherwise provide.

    Any anti-doping system needs to leave some discretion for the Commissioner to apply the rules in ways that make sense. You can argue that this is exactly what happened in the case of Jose Guillen. Personally, I'd argue that the Commissioner overstepped his bounds here … but there ARE arguments going both ways.

    • Hopefully this doesn't stain the reputation of the Giants, if they win it all. In this game seems like everyone is guilty of cheating and getting around the system . Even the one's you don't think are doing it have done it. I'll be in the medical field, hgh is a protein that leads to regeneration of cells. We don't know the specific benefit.But from a scientific point, if you can regenerate cells. This can lead to faster healing and more energy. You have an advantage to get back into the game if you get hurt. And if Guillen did it, of course it isn't fair but I don't see Andy being banned. He also used hgh. Just weird that the Selig made a move like this.

  5. Sabrina, one thing I've learned about so-called PEDs is that they have different effects on different people, and that it's very difficult to describe what any of these biochemicals do, either naturally or artificially. Yes, it's believed that in healthy adults, HGH plays a role in maintaining the cells that make up our bodies. But like a lot of similar body processes, it does not appear that more is necessarily better. In other words, it does not appear that supplementing the body's natural HGH with exogenous ("artificial") HGH allows the body to more effectively regenerate cells. Instead, unprescribed use of exogenous HGH is associated with a number of unpleasant side effects, including swelling in the arms and legs, and joint and muscle pain.

    Human biochemistry is loaded with complex feedback mechanisms, all designed to keep our systems in some kind of balance. Use of PEDs like HGH (or anabolic steroids, for that matter) threaten the balance in ways that are hard to predict and are probably not fully understood. Loading up the body with more HGH than the body would otherwise naturally produce could end up triggering one of these feedback mechanisms, so that the body fails to produce something important to the health of an adult athlete.

    It's one of the reasons why I turn colors when I read about someone who claims that PEDs are not dangerous. When used in small amounts, most PEDs are probably not all that dangerous for most people. But our biochemistries are remarkably diverse, and it seems likely to me that PEDs in even modest quantities may produce unexpected results in some people. So, when you made a statement as to what HGH might do, I have to jump in.

    If you are entering into medicine, please keep this in mind. I've been making an amateur study of PEDs for a few years now. I'm not a scientist and I'm not qualified to do anything other than report what I've learned from others. But I have a feeling that even the scientific community underestimates the extent of human biodiversity. When we say what a substance does, either naturally or artificially, we are making highly generalized statements that do not apply to everyone.

    • Larry, I agree with your assessment. I just disagree that a player is being punished on the biggest stage they can ever play on. Injecting your body with anything is stupid. We don't know the human body fully, stupid assume you get an edge by taking something no matter what it is.