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Duquette: ‘I thought it was important that (players) understand what the risks were’

05.11.09 at 5:20 pm ET
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Former Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette appeared on the Big Show today, which was co-hosted by former Sox infielder Lou Merloni, to discuss Merloni’s description over the weekend of a spring training meeting in which a trainer informed Red Sox players how to administer steroids safely.

Duquette said that the Sox had a club policy of abstinence from steroids, and did not encourage their use, but did want to try to educate players about steroids to minimize the associated health risks. He also said that, in the absence of testing, executives were left to draw conclusions from changes in players’ physiques and jumps in performance (specifically citing Brady Anderson‘s 50-homer season), and suggesting that he was “disappointed” that Roger Clemens‘ performance after leaving Boston so vastly exceeded his final years as a Red Sox, while suggesting that he “will have more to say about (Clemens’ PED use) in another forum.”

Here is a partial transcript (Duquette also writes on the topic here):

DAN DUQUETTE: All the medical people were clear on the policy of the club. I will say that I felt that it was really important to educate the players on the associated health risks associated with steroid use and abuse. Let’s face it, it was the player’s choice. It wasn’t a team choice. The team made their choice very clear. You can’t do it. It’s against the law, and it’s against Major League Baseball policy and team policy. But the players still had the choice to do that.

The club was never (encouraging players to take steroids). We had people come in and educate players about the risks of utilizing steroids. Yes we did. I thought that was very important. A lot of guys that started using steroids and didn’t have medical access to them, there was a lot of health risks to the users of steroids that were prominent in a lot of different sports.

LOU MERLONI: It was brought up in that teams, before steroids were illegal in the game of baseball, were aware of what was going on. We had numerous meetings talking about the dangers of steroids. People were realizing, listen, these meetings are not hitting home. People are still taking steroids. There was one specific meeting that I think a lot of people were surprised walking out of there, because with every comment about how they were bad for you, there was a ‘€˜but.’€™ We were talking about, ‘€˜Well, the one cycle won’€™t hurt.’€™ ‘€˜It’€™s proven that you can stay on the couch, take steroids and gain strength.’€™

A lot of people walked out of that one meeting, saying, ‘€˜Wow, that wasn’€™t all negative about steroids and it actually talked some positive about steroids.’€™ We just took it as, ‘€˜We know some guys are taking, and if that’€™s the case, then we want to educate these guys not to abuse it, and to say, if you take one, you’€™re okay, but if you continue this process, it’€™s going to come down and hurt you. We’€™re saying, basically, organizations were aware of it.

DAN DUQUETTE: Absent a testing program at the major-league level, I thought the most important part of any program that a team could have was educating the players, educating players to the choices they were making, so that they could make an educated choice and avert the health risk. The comment made on Saturday implied that the club was encouraging steroid use or steroid abuse. That wasn’€™t the case.

LM: That’€™s the way some people took it. They took it as someone was up there showing you where to put the needle. That wasn’t the case…I explained it with the analogy of trying to teach your teenage daughter about safe sex. You’€™re not happy that she’€™s having sex, but at the same point, you’€™re going to educate her how to have safe sex. By no means are you going to encourage her to sleep with every guy she sees. But you’€™re acknowledging the fact that, you know what, I’€™m not happy about it, but it’€™s going on. …

DD: The club policy was abstinence. The club policy was abstinence. And that was Major League Baseball’€™s policy. That was communicated first. Beyond that, if a player made a choice, I thought it was important that they understand what the risks were.

(Why would you educate the players if you weren’t suspicious that they were doing this?)

DD: You couldn’t get a drug policy with the Players Association. That’s why you’d educate the players. Without a testing policy, and with the significant economic gains for the players, the stakes were high. There weren’t really any penalties for use because you didn’t have any detection.

LM: It was not a team doctor (who led the meeting discussing steroid usage). There were a lot of people brought in on different occasions to talk about steroid use. I don’t recall the (name of the) guy.One thing that I do recall was afterwards talking with one of the members of the training staff who is no longer with the organization and saying, ‘What was that?’ And him saying, ‘We’re not dumb enough to (think) that guys aren’t taking it, and if they are, we want to educate them not how to take it physically, but the problems that they could run into if they continue with this.

DD: That’s fair. I think that the organization, in fact I know, that the organization made a concerted effort to educate the players, because I thought that was the most useful tool we had, absent a testing program, to put some teeth into the policy.

(Was this a matter of determining that you can’€™t stop players from using, so they should be told how to be safe?)

DD: That’€™s a pragmatic way to look at it. That’€™s really what we did.

(What could you do even if you thought or knew a player was using?)

DD: Specifically, what evidence did you have that a player was utilizing? You had physical evidence, if their body composition was changing, or in the case of Brady Anderson, where he hits 51, that was pretty clear. Beyond that, within the Collective Bargaining Agreement, what tools did the club have? I don’t think the clubs really had effective tools to deal with it.

LM: People saw what was going on. That was the point of it all. People were aware of everything going on at the time. But there was no way to prove it with tests, as they have now, to prove it physically.

(Did you think Clemens might have used PEDs when he returned to Cy Young form in Toronto?)

DD: I was just disappointed that we couldn’€™t get the same results from him here. That’€™s all…All we were trying to do was to help Roger make a transition at that stage of his life to show him that he needed to condition himself more. Obviously, he did it. The disappointing thing is that he didn’t do it while he was here…I’€™ll have more to say about that in another forum.

(Are you writing a book?)

DD: I’€™ll have more to say about that in the future.

(Were you surprised about Manny’s suspension?)

DD: I was disappointed. I wasn’€™t surprised. But I was disappointed.

LM: I won’t be surprised anymore. I’ll be disappointed…There’s no way to be surprised anymore.

Read More: Dan Duquette, Manny Ramirez, Roger Clemens,
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