PR - Crisis and Management

Saturday, April 01, 2006

How baseball should deal with the steroid scandal

Baseball's image at stake as commissioner mulls response to most recent steroid abuse allegations. Selig said he would rather have root-canal surgery than deal with the controversy stirred by Game of Shadows, the new book about Barry Bonds reportedly using steroids. Experts are saying that Selig has no choice now but to be proactive and aggressive in dealing with Bonds. These experts say"One of the first things to do is talk to Bonds. Will he cooperate? If he doesn't, I think that leads to disaster for Bonds,"

steroids were, in fact, banned from baseball as early as 1991, when Fay Vincent, as commissioner, circulated a document titled "Baseball's Drug Policy and Prevention Program," detailing the prohibition of "all illegal drugs and controlled substances, including steroids." ESPN The Magazine has reported on the little-known policy's existence, and also reported that Selig sent out a similar memo in 1997. The players' union refused to submit to a testing program. But that didn't mean steroids were legal.

Bonds wasn't the only one breaking the rules. There's no telling how many players used illegal performance-enhancing substances to better themselves and their games. That's one reason Bonds' supporters say he shouldn't be singled out.

The debate is over what Selig should do in response to this scandal. The easy response would be to do nothing and Selig would love to do that, despite his professed concern for ridding baseball of steroids. However, taking on Bonds could lead to trouble with the players union, complaints from Bonds' team, the San Francisco Giants and maybe even a lawsuit from Bonds himself. Vincent suggests furthering the story and gathering information grounded in fact, not rumor. The public relations lesson to be learned is that you have to act, respond, take chances.The one thing you can't do is, nothing.

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