Red Sox chairman Tom Werner took to RedSox.com this afternoon to defend slugger David Ortiz and to criticize Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy for asking questions about performance-enhancing drugs.
Werner called the question of whether Ortiz had been using drugs to enhance his performance “false, inflammatory and without real basis.”
He went on to write that while baseball had improved itself, including instituting tougher drug testing policies, the media, in his mind, has work to do to not tarnish “the public’s enjoyment and appreciation for exploits well done.”
“Should we not speak out and insist upon solid journalistic standards and not stand by complacently and silently, lamenting their erosion?” Werner wrote on the team’s website. “Those who publicly ask questions must take responsibility for their words.”
Earlier this week, Shaughnessy wrote a column recounting a conversation he had with Ortiz about the designated hitter’s hot start to the season and what he thinks about suspicions of performance-enhancing drugs.
“They had the right, but was it right?” Werner wrote of the Globe publishing the column. “We’re in a new media world, and fact-less accusations stick. In today’s media world, the question -- even if it’s false, inflammatory and without real basis -- can become the story.”
Globe editor Brian McGrory said in a statement:
“Dan Shaughnessy did what good columnists do. He gave voice to the questions that were on the minds of many people.
“Rather than fling accusations from afar, Shaughnessy went right to the source, respectfully posing a series of questions to David Ortiz, face-to-face, and receiving thoughtful answers in return. The insightful responses, quoted at length, gave readers a logical explanation to Ortiz’s torrid start this season. The job of a journalist is to ask these hard questions, and then give a good airing and proper context to the answers. Dan Shaughnessy did exactly that.”
Werner invoked Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson, and Tim Wakefield in defense of the 37-year-old Ortiz, who was hitting .353 through 17 games this season.
“Does this mean that whenever an athlete -- particularly a Dominican athlete -- does something exceptional, we have to assume he cheated?” asked Werner.
“I know it’s an uncomfortable and awkward topic. It’s not fun for me either,” Shaughnessy said on Boston Sports Live, adding that Ortiz failed a drug test in 2003. “Some people are uncomfortable that the questions are asked. I’m not. That’s our job.”