Skip to content

REPORT: Baseball’s updated drug program to include better testing, 80-game suspensions for first offenses

Mar 27, 2014, 8:30 AM EST

Image (1) hgh.jpg for post 4145

It used to be that when baseball did things with its drug program, the league was accused of merely being reactive in an effort to calm down P.R. problems. If baseball had merely jacked up penalties for drug offenses — which they are reportedly doing — one might arguably say that’s what MLB was doing here, as a reaction to Biogenesis stuff. But, according to this Bob Nightengale report — from an unnamed source, so the specifics could still change — that’s not all they’re doing:

The new agreement will not only increase the drug penalties, but also implement widespread carbon isotope testing, the official said, hoping to dramatically increase the detection of a synthetic testosterone.

That’s a big deal, because the biggest problem with the Biogenesis thing wasn’t that it was somehow different or more insidious than your usual run-of-the-mill cheating, it’s that MLB didn’t catch the guys without help of an alternative newspaper in Miami. If MLB catches A-Rod on a drug test in 2012, it’s a totally different situation. Other players involved in Biogenesis may stop using. A protracted dispute about the length of penalties is not had and that arbitration from last year doesn’t exist. Toughening the testing and not letting players who use PEDs feel like they can get away with it is essential to cutting down on PED use.

But of course, increased penalties are part of the system too:

The official said first-time offenses will be 80 games, an increase from 50, and a second offense will be for an entire 162-game season instead of 100 games. There will be a lifetime suspension for a third offense.

I have no problem with this. It’s what the players want, and that’s the most important thing. It isn’t terribly draconian yet it does raise the stakes. Most importantly, there have been reports that there will be safeguards in place for players who can show that they inadvertently took a PED, so the situation that is most worrisome — a guy’s career being put at risk for an honest mistake — is off the table.

Interesting times for what many consider to be U.S. sports’ strongest drug program.

  1. gothapotamus90210 - Mar 27, 2014 at 8:45 AM

    When would these harsher penalties start?

  2. renaado - Mar 27, 2014 at 8:46 AM

    Finally ! :-), I’m really lovin what they are doing right now. Skies are now shining bright for Baseball, THANK YOU :-D !!

    • gothapotamus90210 - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:09 AM

      There are no smiley faces in baseball.

      • renaado - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:46 AM

        In my country Philippines there is, I just saw yesterday headin to my college campus in the parks of Makati Children ages 10-12 with smiling faces on how they play the game of Baseball. :-) :-D. Baseball is Awesome and Fun ! ;-)

    • moogro - Mar 27, 2014 at 1:54 PM

      Emoticons should not have halos or headphones or whatever that is.

      • renaado - Mar 27, 2014 at 1:58 PM

        For me they do :-).

  3. campcouch - Mar 27, 2014 at 8:46 AM

    The idea that a guy would even hit a second or third time means the lifetime ban should be incurred the first time.

    • 18thstreet - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:08 AM

      If they were really serious about ridding the sport of steroids, they’d execute anyone who failed a drug test.

    • Rich Stowe - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:12 AM

      second time I could see but not the first time, solely because of the false positive or “inadvertent use”

      • deathmonkey41 - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:14 AM

        At this point- if you’re still using “Inadvertent Use” as an excuse, you’re a damn liar. They give you a list of what you’re allowed and not allowed to take. If you aren’t certain, you don’t take it until you find out. There are no more “Tainted Milkshakes in the DR” stories that are even semi-believable anymore.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:17 AM

        There are no more “Tainted Milkshakes in the DR” stories that are even semi-believable anymore.

        See my comment below. Also MLB doesn’t have a list of “approved” substances, because things like supplements aren’t regulated. Because they aren’t regulated, they don’t have to list all of their ingredients in their product. Something could be in there that MLB has banned, and the player may not know it. It’s why the burden is on the player to get the item tested.

      • deathmonkey41 - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:18 AM

        They’re not kids- they’re grown ass men. It’s on them to know what they’re taking. They have a list of banned substances and players could easily find out if a substance- supplement or not- is considered allowable by MLB. Like I said, if you don’t know- you don’t take it.

        http://mlb.mlb.com/pa/pdf/jda.pdf

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:12 AM

        They have a list of banned substances and players could easily find out if a substance- supplement or not- is considered allowable by MLB.

        Except that’s not what you originally wrote. You said MLB had a list of ALLOWABLE substances, and I argued that they didn’t, and explained why.

        They’re not kids- they’re grown ass men. It’s on them to know what they’re taking.

        Yes, for the players in MLB it is, but the majority of the people being busted are kids in the Dominican Summer Leagues. So they are in fact kids getting busted.

      • indaburg - Mar 27, 2014 at 12:23 PM

        Deathmonkey, there are tainted “milkshakes” aka supplements right here in the US. You don’t have to go to the Dominican Republic. Just last year, a number of people became sickened by taking Vitamin B supplements that had been tainted by anabolic steroids: http://www.fda.gov/newsevents/newsroom/pressannouncements/ucm362799.htm
        The steroids were not listed as an ingredient on the label. The people who took those supplements thought they were taking good old Vitamin B.

        The onus is definitely on the player to only use supplements by companies that are NSF certified so that they are guaranteed to be getting what’s listed as an ingredient on the bottle especially when the stakes are so high.

      • deathmonkey41 - Mar 27, 2014 at 1:10 PM

        “The onus is definitely on the player to only use supplements by companies that are NSF certified so that they are guaranteed to be getting what’s listed as an ingredient on the bottle especially when the stakes are so high.”

        This is exactly what I’m saying.

    • paperlions - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:35 AM

      Why is it that important? These players aren’t doing anything that players haven’t done for the last 60 years….in fact, players today are taking FEWER drugs than players anyone discussing this grew up watching.

      Okay, a guy took steroids, so what? They really don’t help guys play baseball better…and if you really think they do present the evidence…and feel free to look at all of the fantastic players that have been busted over the last several years or that occurred in any of the reports.

      I agree that penalties of 1/2 season and 1 season are appropriate….but these are just guys playing baseball. They are entertainers. Even if they just got 1 year for each violation after the first, by the 3rd time that is effectively a life-time ban anyway considering the length of careers.

      The amount of outrage and hand wringing over this issue is way out of proportion with its importance or even its effect on baseball performances.

      • linhsiu - Mar 27, 2014 at 4:48 PM

        “They really don’t help guys play baseball better…and if you really think they do present the evidence…”

        The evidence is there for all to see… if you choose not to acknowledge it… the burden is on you, not those you disagree with…

  4. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:14 AM

    Ben Badler has been all over these new “rules” the last few days.

  5. tysonpunchinguterus - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:33 AM

    I’m glad they’re increasing the penalties. It seems like most of the players want this and realize that it’s needed. I wonder how long they spent discussing the penalty for the 1st offense. 80 games is a nice round number, but 81 games is half a season. 1 game is such a minor difference in reality, but I can imagine that it took up a lot more time during this process than one might think.

    • 18thstreet - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:24 AM

      I was thinking the same thing. If I know humans, and I think that I do, they probably spent 80 percent of their time arguing over 80-versus-81 games.

      • happytwinsfan - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:44 AM

        disagree. i’d estimate 81%

      • themuddychicken - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:48 AM

        Or possibly 81% of their time?

      • themuddychicken - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:51 AM

        Ugh, damn slow internet connection slowing down my replies

      • happytwinsfan - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:03 AM

        only got WI FI in the coop?

  6. renaado - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:45 AM

    In my country Philippines there is, I just saw yesterday headin to my college campus in the parks of Makati Children ages 10-12 with smiling faces on how they play the game of Baseball. :-) :-D. Baseball is Awesome and Fun ! ;-)

  7. 1harrypairatesties - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    Need more testing for HGH.

  8. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:00 AM

    Why bother when you can simply change your mind mid-stream and punish a guy for however long you don’t feel like paying him for?

    Also, apparently they have NOT learned their lesson, because the issues that need fixing are the ones MLB conveniently decided to side-step and ignore in the Alex Rodriguez case.

    What about the fact that a player can be tested twice in the first month (Once in spring training), and then KNOW they will never be tested again and are free to use what they want when they want? How about randomizing both the number of tests, the players tested, the location of tests, and the frequency of tests to prevent players from being able to avoid detection by simply following a organized protocol as is what occurred in the Bio-genesis case? Will clauses be added to punish those who lie to the commissioner’s office or otherwise impede an investigation? What about those that bribe officials, or set up fake websites to hide the purchase of steroids? What about those that falsely and improperly attack those that collect the samples? What about punishing a guy who gets suspended on a contract year? What about reducing the financial motivations of a player to not illegally use a substance? How about we make sure the teams have no vested interest in looking the other way, or even helping a player avoid detection? How about ensuring the players have a save and anonymous method of reporting suspicious activity and are taught to speak if you see? What safeguards are being put into place to ensure the commissioner’s office is following accepted protocol and rules and regulations in their investigation against a particular player and are not simply acting out of some sort of personal vendetta all secret police catch-22 style?

    Oh, forget about all that, upping the penalty and additional 30 games is SURE to fix the problem. It’s not like these guys have millions of reasons not to care if they get suspended. And it’s not like a great amount of these players are choosing between using a drug and poverty in a dirt hole of a country. I mean, upping mandatory minimums sure worked when they decided to crack down on illegal drug trade…

    • clydeserra - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:26 AM

      right.I mean, crime has been totally eradicated since penalties for convictions have gone up.

  9. barrybondsisthealltimehomerunking - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:05 AM

    80 games is a lot, however still worth the risk if you otherwise going to be stuck in the minors.

    • happytwinsfan - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:56 AM

      i think you hit on a big part of the problem. triple A guys go from making something under 2000 / month to the major league min of about 20,000 / week. even if a player can only make himself good enough to be on and off the big league team for 1 to 3 years he can hang it up with hundreds of thousands of dollars instead of nothing but memories.

  10. righthandofjustice - Mar 27, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    That’s not the full report.

    According to the same report, MLB is actually trying to make things easier for cheaters to reduce their supposedly 50 game suspension to 25, if their test result is a product of inadvertent use of PED. However, like the “legal” stimulant exemptions, they don’t provide any guidelines on how such things are determined.

    The new drug rule is actually one step forward, and two steps backward. It is a a step in making steroids violations “semi-legal”. First, the cheaters make up an excuse to claim they inadvertently obtained the steroids from a fake website, an escort he met from Match.com, etc, stuff a brown paper bag with “evidence” and send it to Bud Selig, and get the suspensions reduced to 25 games. Then the next stage of the drug rule is… drum roll… exemption of anabolic steroids just like exemptions of stimulants.

  11. dadawg77 - Mar 27, 2014 at 1:45 PM

    Question, would eliminating PEDs from the game make the game less entertaining?

    Slower fast balls, less homers, more players on the DL or less than 100% in the dog days. But the stats would be purer.

    Almost wondering if baseball with save its nose despite its face.

    On the morality side, I don’t think it is a major issue. If taking a pill can help you go from earning 20K a year to have a chance at generational wealth, don’t you owe it to your self and your family to take the pill?

  12. righthandofjustice - Mar 27, 2014 at 5:29 PM

    Minor leaguers and not-quite-star-level major leaguers may not have to rely on illegal PED soon, since they can formally get exemptions for stimulants like Adderall. Many may not have enough “evidence” to put in the brown paper bag to be delivered to Selig and get their applications approved in the past but now somebody has formally gone to MLBPA and the Press to contest Selig and the MLB.

    According to Bloomberg, the tide is changing:

    “For Michael Lardon, a sports psychiatrist in San Diego who sometimes seeks stimulant exemptions for MLB players with ADHD, the exemption process has become too difficult. “We had a guy that had it in spades, with two well-respected doctors giving him identical 10-page reports,” he says, “and they turned it down.” The player, an eight-year veteran with no history of drug problems, eventually went to the players’ union for help getting an exemption. “The pendulum swings the other way quickly,” Lardon says.”

    The bottom line is not only the students and minor leaguers, some major leaguers are fed up with MLB’s double standard on handling PED issues and they are not going to take it anymore. MLB simply can’t adopt double standards like granting multiple-times Adderall offenders such as Carlos Ruiz exemption but refusing the application for players who may not have enough “evidence” to stuff a brown paper bag.

    http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-03-03/no-baseball-doesnt-have-a-fake-adhd-epidemic

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Cubs shore up rotation with Jon Lester
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. W. Myers (3316)
  2. J. Kang (3136)
  3. C. McGehee (2853)
  4. J. Upton (2839)
  5. W. Middlebrooks (2831)
  1. D. Ross (2666)
  2. T. Tulowitzki (2412)
  3. J. Shields (1934)
  4. D. Haren (1907)
  5. M. Kemp (1879)