The Pirates star deserves rebuke for PED use
Major League Baseball made the right call in suspending Pirates outfielder Starling Marte for 80 games. For too long, drugs have been the scourge of baseball and other professional sports. Only tough measures will send players and teams the message that enough is enough.
Mr. Marte received the unpaid suspension after testing positive for nandrolone, a performance enhancer. He’s eligible to return to the team in July but would be banned from the playoffs, should the Pirates be fortunate enough to get that far after doing without a star player for half of the season.
Other players struck the right tone, offering support for a troubled colleague but making no excuses for him. “When you make a mistake, you gotta pay for it,” fellow outfielder Andrew McCutchen said. “It’s that simple.”
The suspension is especially appropriate in light of the nation’s opioid scandal; professional baseball should lead the way in signaling that drugs are nothing to trifle with.
Mr. Marte’s suspension is a huge setback for the Pirates, which sorely need him. Mr. Marte has apologized to the team and the fans, who are conditioned to forgiving the Pirates for many things and likely will treat him like a prodigal son when he resurfaces in July.
In a statement, Mr. Marte said “neglect and lack of knowledge have led me to this mistake,” and he asked forgiveness “for unintentionally disrespecting so many people ...” Given the long lineup of notable players whose careers have been tainted by drugs, it is surprising that a player could be naive about performance enhancers, as Mr. Marte said he was. Agents and teams should keep the issue on players’ radar so they don’t go astray.
Texas Rangers pitcher Jake Diekman took to Twitter to suggest players who violate the drug policy get paid league minimum salaries for the rest of their careers. That would be the equivalent of a line drive to the head. But if that’s what it takes to ensure compliance, the league might want to take the idea under advisement.