In 2003, MLB conducted survey testing to determine the extent of PED use in baseball. Among those who tested positive (though we wouldn't learn it for another six years) was David Ortiz, then in his first year with the Red Sox. Even now, Ortiz says he has no idea how he ended up on that list.
Speaking to WEEI before last night's game, Ortiz says he's never been able to learn the details of his failed test.
"No. Nobody. Not MLB. Not the Players Association. Nobody,” said Ortiz when asked if anyone had revealed what he had reportedly tested positive for. “They just threw it out there that I tested positive on this one list and that was it. Nothing. So I have to deal with that, and your mind is all over the place. And I’ve lived with it.
“It is something that is still in the dark because nobody ever had the balls to come to me and say, ‘This is what was happening.’ You damaged my image at the time, and it has always stayed like that. No explanation. No nothing.”
Is it possible Ortiz really doesn't know what testers found in his pee? It's an argument made many times, with varying degrees of success. After J.C. Romero tested positive for androstenedione in 2008, he claimed he had taken a tainted supplement and sued the manufacturers. The lawsuit was settled out of court.
(It's odd that Ortiz is addressing this at all. Fans have very selective memories about who they associate with PEDs, and as Pete Rose[!] said yesterday, it's best from a PR standpoint to just move on from it. On Monday, as boos cascaded down for Alex Rodriguez in Chicago, no one seemed to notice or care that the pitching matchup featured one starter who had admitted to HGH use against another that had failed a drug test and served a suspension.)
If Ortiz really thinks he got screwed in 2003, he's entitled to try to clear his name. Not testing positive in the decade since goes a long way, even though just this week we learned of a dozen PED users who didn't fail any tests.
Maybe he's upset over the wrong thing. The specific substance doesn't particularly matter—whatever it was, it wasn't illegal at the time and there were no penalties in place. But the 2003 testing was supposed to be confidential, and of the reported 104 players that failed, only seven names have come out. Ortiz ought to reserve his anger for whoever leaked his and Manny Ramirez's names to the Times.