The Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals just ruled that the government overstepped itself in seizing the 2003 drug test results of MLB players, other than the 10 BALCO-related players for whom they had warrants. This reverses the decision of a three-judge appellate panel from the same court, which had previously decided that the government acted properly in uncovering the names of all the players who had tested positive for PED. As a result of the ruling, the government has been ordered to return all materials and data not related to the 10 players for whom they had a warrant. A summary of the decision can be found here.
While this is a big victory for MLB and the MLBPA–as well as fans of the right to privacy–there are caveats. First of all, like the previous Ninth Circuit decision, this 11-judge en banc decision was not unanimous. It’s possible that the government could ask the Ninth Circuit to reconsider its decision again, or they could pursue an appeal to the US Supreme Court, so this is likely far from over. The other big caveat is that, as the various and repeated leaks of names from the reported 104 players who tested positive for performance enhancers that season show, it may be impossible to put the toothpaste back in the tube, no matter what happens in a court of law.