Skip to content

MLB, MLBPA announce stronger testing, harsher penalties for PEDs

Mar 28, 2014, 4:44 PM EST

syringe

In the wake of the Biogenesis scandal and Alex Rodriguez‘s subsequent 162-game suspension, Major League Baseball and many of its players have called for tougher drug testing and harsher suspensions for violations of baseball’s drug policy.

They just got it.

Major League Baseball and the MLBPA have announced that they have reached agreement on changes to the drug testing program which enhance testing procedures and increase penalties for taking PEDs.

The enhanced testing procedures

  • The number of in-season random urine collections will more than double beginning in the 2014 season, from 1,400 total tests to to 3,200;
  • Blood collections for hGH detection will increase to 400 random collections per year, in addition to the 1,200 mandatory collections conducted during Spring Training;
  • Carbon Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry tests will be randomly performed on at least one specimen from every player. Basically, this is an enhanced analysis of blood samples which are considered more effective in detecting hGH in blood and are tests endorsed by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The enhanced punishment

  • A first-time violation of the Joint Drug Program will now result in an unpaid 80-game suspension, increased from 50 games.  A player’s second violation will result in an unpaid 162-game suspension, increased from 100 games.  A third violation will result in a permanent suspension from Baseball.
  • A suspension of 162 games will result in 183 days worth of pay docking, to account for the fact that players are paid baed on a 183-day schedule as opposed to being paid per game. This was implemented in reaction to Alex Rodriguez still receiving some pay this year despite a 162-game ban.
  • Every Player whose suspension for a performance-enhancing substance is upheld will be subject to six additional unannounced urine collections, and three additional unannounced blood collections, during every subsequent year of his entire career.

MORE: To read the full summary of the MLB-MLBPA joint drug program modifications, click here

There are also some advantages to players under the new system. Specifically, if a player tests positive, he can argue to an arbitrator that his use of PEDs was not intended to enhance performance. This changes things from the “zero tolerance” policy which previously existed and under which someone faced first-time discipline even if their PED use was accidental.

Additionally, the league and the union are creating a safe harbor of sorts: they have established a program in which players will have year-round access to supplements that will not cause a positive test result. This should reduce confusion on banned over-the-counter substances and reduce the use of the “I got this from GNC and thought it was OK” defense many have raised in the past.

Many anti-doping experts already viewed Major League Baseball as having the toughest drug testing regime in all of U.S. team sports. This only increases baseball’s lead in this regard.

It does, however, present some reasons for concern. As we at HBT argued this morning, the playoff ban for those players who tested positive and have already served their entire suspensions seems somewhat draconian and will result in harsher penalties for players on winning teams than those on losing teams. It also punishes innocent players on playoff teams in ways the previous system did not before. Moreover, merely adding games to first and second offenses may make everyone feel like the system is tougher, but it must not be assumed that the same basic incentive to cheat — if a player can get away with it, it could mean millions of dollars — will always persist. We execute murderers yet murder still occurs.

At the same time, the strengthening of the drug testing procedures and the implementation of the supplement supplies is most welcome. If the players in the Biogenesis investigation had been caught via testing, no one would have thought of that episode in baseball as a particularly black mark and a year’s worth of bad publicity and litigation would not have been necessary. The best way to cut down on PED use in baseball is to catch the guys who cheat, not to try to make up for testing failures with harsh rhetoric and tactics after the holes in the drug testing system are exposed.

Either way, this is a significant increase in the strength of the drug testing program and will likely be met with overwhelming praise by players, fans, the media and the clubs.

Latest Posts
  1. Peter Moylan signs a minor league deal with the Braves

    Mar 6, 2015, 8:08 AM EST

    Moylan.bmp

    The two-time Tommy John veteran reunites with the Braves.

  2. Good morning from Barry Bonds and Michael Bolton

    Mar 6, 2015, 6:41 AM EST

    Barry Bonds Glass

    Barry Bonds’ Instagram page is the gift that keeps on giving.

  3. Zack Wheeler on Bryce Harper: “We’re going to make it hard for him to get that ring”

    Mar 5, 2015, 11:01 PM EST

    Zack Wheeler AP AP

    Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is understandably confident about his team’s chances, but Zack Wheeler thinks the Mets can make things interesting.

  4. Garrett Richards ready to face hitters for first time since knee surgery

    Mar 5, 2015, 9:45 PM EST

    Garrett Richards AP AP

    Richards is scheduled to throw live batting practice on Saturday for the first time since knee surgery.

  5. Cliff Lee throws two scoreless innings in Grapefruit League debut

    Mar 5, 2015, 8:29 PM EST

    Cliff Lee AP AP

    It was his first game action since last July 31.

  6. Hector Olivera’s camp denies any damage to ulnar collateral ligament

    Mar 5, 2015, 7:33 PM EST

    Hector Olivera Getty Getty Images

    Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan hears that Cuban infielder Hector Olivera could have UCL damage in his elbow, but Olivera’s camp has strongly denied the report.

  7. UPDATE: Hunter Pence out 6-8 weeks with fracture in left forearm

    Mar 5, 2015, 7:07 PM EST

    Hunter Pence Getty Getty Images

    The Giants will likely be without Pence for the first month of the season.

  8. UPDATE: Orioles release Suk-min Yoon so he can return to Korea

    Mar 5, 2015, 6:13 PM EST

    suk-min yoon korea getty Getty Images

    He would then return to Korea, where the 28-year-old was a former MVP.

  9. MLBPA: leaks are from people “who want to see Josh Hamilton hurt personally and professionally”

    Mar 5, 2015, 5:20 PM EST

    Josh Hamilton Getty Getty Images

    Tony Clark adds that the leaks “are cowardly, undermine the integrity of our collectively bargained agreements and in some instances have been wholly inaccurate.”

  10. There was a big, big rock star at Tigers camp today

    Mar 5, 2015, 5:12 PM EST

    Joker

    He was bigger a few years ago, but he’s still a pretty big deal.

  11. Mike Minor to see Dr. James Andrews

    Mar 5, 2015, 4:46 PM EST

    Mike Minor AP

    He may be a nice man, but no one likes to pay a visit to Dr. Andrews.

  12. Yu Darvish leaves first spring start with arm tightness

    Mar 5, 2015, 3:45 PM EST

    Yu Darvish AP AP

    Darvish spent the final six weeks of last season on the disabled list.

  13. Phil Coke’s deal with Cubs worth at least $2.25 million if he makes the team

    Mar 5, 2015, 3:25 PM EST

    World Series Tigers Giants Baseball AP

    It’s a minor-league deal with major-league money attached.

  14. Alfredo Simon has some sweet wheels

    Mar 5, 2015, 2:52 PM EST

    Alfredo Simon Getty Images

    Chrome. No, not just the trim. The whole dang car is chrome.

  15. The Cardinals are boring

    Mar 5, 2015, 1:30 PM EST

    Lackey yawn AP

    Just ask them. They’ll tell you so.

  16. The Josh Hamilton decision could come as early as next week

    Mar 5, 2015, 11:39 AM EST

    Josh Hamilton Josh Hamilton

    The union and the league are butting heads, but the deadlock should soon be broken.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. R. Castillo (3109)
  2. J. Hamilton (2780)
  3. D. Viciedo (2694)
  4. C. Gonzalez (2635)
  5. C. Sale (2477)