MLB officials believe the new south Florida doping scandal could rival the BALCO case, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. That statement in and of itself speaks volumes to the potential ramifications of this situation.
MLB has said that it's going to take time to gather and review information pertaining to this morning's report before issuing further comments. Since BALCO, performance-enhancing drugs have come into Commissioner Bud Selig's crosshairs, and you can bet there will be changes made to current drug-abuse policy or potential penalties for positive tests.
However, as pointed out by Buster Olney of ESPN and others, the potential rewards for would-be PED users vastly outweigh the risks they face.
Take, for example, former San Francisco Giants MVP candidate Melky Cabrera. He's one of the players named in the recent south Florida situation, but he was suspended by MLB last season after testing positive for PEDs.
As a first-time offender, Cabrera was suspended for 50-games without pay. He also lost the respect of his teammates, who issued perhaps Cabrera's most significant punishment when they went on to win the World Series despite the absence of his bat in their lineup.
Cabrera wound up losing a little over $800,000 during his 50-game suspension. This is probably a significant amount to anyone reading this article. And it would seem that it would also be significant to Cabrera.
Until you consider he went on to sign a two-year contract with the Toronto Blue Jays this offseason that guarantees him $16 million.
Based on this example - a player being rewarded for statistics totaled while using a banned substance - it becomes clear that players are and will continue to be incentivized to use these drugs to inflate their production until harsher penalties and deterrents are introduced.
But what would this more stringent enforcement look like?
That is ultimately up to MLB, but it could come in the form of longer, more severe penalties. Instead of 50- and 100-game bans, MLB could issue season and even permanent bans for repeat offenders.
Players will also need to be hit where it hurts; in the wallet. Perhaps clauses written into contracts allowing deals to be voided - yes, we're looking at you Mr. Rodriguez - if a player tests positive.
Whatever the case, Olney was right when he tweeted this morning that none of this will happen until MLB's Player's Union gets behind the movement. They are in the business of protecting players, but - again stealing from Buster - "If the union wants to protect the interests of the clean players, it must act on their behalf and toughen the penalties."
It will take some time to determine potential changes to MLB's banned substance policy, but what about the player's named in this morning's report?
Those six would include: Gio Gonzalez, Alex Rodriguez, Nelson Cruz, Melky Cabrera, Yasmani Grandal and Bartolo Colon.
Craig Calcaterra of Hard Ball Talk doesn't believe MLB will enact immediate discipline on the six. However, while he stuck with his initial stance, he did go on to mention that the league may hand out suspensions for "just cause."
This leads to the question of whether or not any of the six will face suspensions in the near future which would be carried out to start the 2013 season. In the case of Cabrera, Grandal and Colon, players who have already tested positive for PEDs, they would face 100-game bans. The others would receive 50-game bans under the current system.
MLB is apparently considering this course of action, as Passan reported earlier this morning that the commissioner's office could eventually hand out suspensions.
So, as you can see, there is a lot that remains to be determined. Could this be BALCO all over again? We likely won't know for some time as MLB gathers information. However, it does appear that this thing is going to have some far-reaching impacts, both to the players named and to the current banned substance policy.