Expert says steroid suspensions could spur stiffer penalties

9:56 PM, Aug 5, 2013   |    comments
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Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees listens to a question from the media after a rehab game for the Trenton Thunder against the Reading Fightin Phils at Arm & Hammer Park on August 3, 2013 in Trenton, New Jersey. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- An international doping expert based in the Twin Cities says baseball has sent a hopeful message to the sports world after suspending Alex Rodriguez and several other players on Monday.

But University of St. Thomas professor John Wendt also says all pro sports leagues have a long way to go.

"You compare it to the Olympics, (where) if you test positive on the first time, you are presumed to get a two-year ban. Here, you're almost negotiating what your penalty might be," Wendt told KARE 11.

Wendt works with anti-doping committees and boards for both professional sports and Olympic athletes. He says the two vary in how they test athletes.

In the Olympics "you can be tested any time. People can wake you up at 6 a.m. and say 'We're here. We're ready for a test.' It's not like that in other sports," he explained.

He also says the lightning rod created by A-Rod is the spark that might bridge the gap between the pros and the Olympians. In Major League Baseball, a first offense nets a 50-game suspension. A second positive equals a 100-game suspension and a third offense guarantees a lifetime ban.

"I think the penalties have to be stiffer," Wendt said.

In the Olympics, athletes go from the initial two-year suspension to a lifetime ban after the second offense.

"In the last few months, 40 Russian athletes have tested positive," Wendt noted.

The Vice President of the International Association of Athletics Federations wants a first offense to cost an athlete four years instead of two.

"We are taking this more seriously than we have ever taken it before," Sebastian Coe said.

Major League baseball is too.

"I think there's a silver lining in this. I think people realize that the athletes themselves want fair competition," Wendt concluded.

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