Wednesday, June 17, 2009

More than you ever wanted to know about filling a bottle

From CJ Nitkowski, at his blog CJBaseball, is his take on drug testing, filling a bottle, dealing with foreigners, and a bunch of people who want to do anything else.

Normally, like most bloggers, I would cut and paste a few quotes from the blog, but the format he's using doesn't allow that. But it's not a long post and it's worth the time, just because of what's happening in the world of baseball today.

As an aside, having spent 20 years in the Army, I know what this is all about. I've had to fill more bottles than it was possible to keep count of. At one point, we were doing a random 10% test of the entire battalion every week. But everyone had to fill the bottle at least once a quarter, so you could get lucky for awhile, but not for long.

There was nothing worse than standing out in formation, getting ready for physical training, when the 1st Sergeant would grab a soldier out of the hallway, and tell him/her to pick a number out of a hat. Because at that point, if you got called, you were in for the duration. You could drink water, but that was it. No coffee, no soda, nothing that would actually make you go. And of course, this was the first thing in the morning, and what's the first thing you do when you get up?

The difference between the Army and baseball (one of them at least) is that the Army's going to get the sample out of you no matter what you want. They'll give you a certain amount of time to fill the bottle, but after awhile, you're going to the hospital. The threat (and yes, they can do it) of a catheter is enough to get most people to go. Oh, but those poor souls who just couldn't squeeze out enough.

Even worse than having to fill the bottle, I was also an observer. Yes, it means what you think it does. There's nothing worse than getting pulled out of the bunk at 4:00 am to go watch a bunch of swinging, well, soldiers, fill little bottles. And it wasn't here's a bottle, go fill it it in the stall, and bring it back to me. Observe means observe. Oh, the things we do for our country.

Which actually triggered something in my mind, and now I'm curious. We were required to observe, and we always caught people trying to get out of the test, have someone else do it for them, or use 'instruments' to help them. If they were caught, and they always were, it was automatic punishment the same as if you came up hot.

So how come no one is getting punished in baseball for trying to get away with something? And how come so few major league and big name players? Is anyone actually watching them? Are they allowed to 'proceed' on their own and hand the bottle to some who's waiting outside the stall? Are they being checked to see if they have a friends sample with them when they go in? If steroids is such a rampant problem in baseball, how come so few players have actually been caught?

I'm really curious now, and I have to wonder if baseball is as diligent as they claim to be. The Army has a good drug testing system, and a soldier might get away with it for a one-off thing, but prolonged use was always caught. Always. And so were the guys trying to get an edge.

Just looking back at if from previous experience, if so many guys were using, then the number caught should be so much higher than it is. It really should be. Unless everyone went cold turkey, which they obviously haven't, because players are getting suspended.

And I'm here to tell you that sending a guy into a closed stall to fill a bottle isn't a drug test. All that does is collect urine. Either the problem wasn't as serious as it was made out to be, and I doubt that, or something isn't being done correctly. The numbers just don't add up.
Of course, I want to find the technician that's going to put a catheter into Randy Johnson. Because that was a brave man.

1 comment:

tHeMARksMiTh said...

Maybe all the "steroid users" just chose the wrong guy to get a sample from. ;)