Mar 28, 2014, 4:44 PM EDT
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.
Oct 31, 2014, 11:55 PM EDT
The Angels are expected to address their pitching needs by making Howie Kendrick or David Freese available in a trade.
Oct 31, 2014, 11:15 PM EDT
Veteran lefty Jeff Francis has agreed to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training with the Blue Jays.
Oct 31, 2014, 10:25 PM EDT
The Blue Jays will exercise a $6.7 million club option on J.A. Happ for the 2015 season.
Oct 31, 2014, 9:55 PM EDT
Twins prospect Byron Buxton had surgery on Thursday to repair a dislocated middle finger on his left hand.
Oct 31, 2014, 9:05 PM EDT
Nick Markakis is a free agent after the Orioles declined their half of a $17.5 million mutual option for the 2015 season.
Oct 31, 2014, 8:25 PM EDT
Pablo Sandoval says he wants to retire a Giant. He’s a free agent and is expected to sign a lengthy, expensive contract.
Oct 31, 2014, 7:35 PM EDT
Chad Billingsley is now a free agent after the Dodgers declined their club option for the 2015 season.
Oct 31, 2014, 6:55 PM EDT
Colby Lewis will test free agency after he and the Rangers couldn’t strike a deal.
Oct 31, 2014, 6:05 PM EDT
Madison Bumgarner’s post-season performance prompted Jockey to make underwear with “Mad Bum” on the backside, a special gift to Giants fans at Friday’s World Series parade in San Francisco.
Oct 31, 2014, 5:17 PM EDT
This season Hawkins became one of 16 pitchers in MLB history with 1,000 or more appearances and if healthy he’ll move into the top 10 next season.
Oct 31, 2014, 4:34 PM EDT
But will he accept it?
Oct 31, 2014, 4:26 PM EDT
Rios is now a free agent coming off a season in which he hit .280 with four homers and a .709 OPS in 131 games.
Oct 31, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT
The end of this awkward, orchestrated process is in sight.
Oct 31, 2014, 3:50 PM EDT
He’ll be eligible for free agency next offseason at age 34.
Oct 31, 2014, 3:20 PM EDT
Both players will reject the offers.
Oct 31, 2014, 2:55 PM EDT
Here we go.
Oct 31, 2014, 2:44 PM EDT
Dirks missed the entire season following back surgery and then a hamstring injury.
Oct 31, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
Go O.D. on some hot trolley action.
Oct 31, 2014, 2:14 PM EDT
Chavez played for the Yankees in 2011 and 2012.
Oct 31, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
Our last HBT Daily of the year gives a brief taste of the coming winter.
- The Cubs to announce the hiring of Joe Maddon on Monday 38
- Cubs fire manager Rick Renteria, clear way for Joe Maddon 69
- HardballTalk’s Top 150 Free Agents for 2015 24
- Joe Maddon’s pursuit of the Cubs job called “a classless act” by some in the game 121
- Kevin Youkilis opts for retirement at age 35 31
- 10 nominees for Hall of Fame’s Veterans Committee announced 108
- Bochy’s championship resume ranks among game’s best 19
- Alex Gordon would have been a dead duck had he tried to score 83
- A veteran says enough is enough when it comes to tributes for the soldiers (282)
- Jose Canseco shot his middle finger off (148)
- Oscar Taveras dies after car accident in the Dominican Republic (140)
- Joe Maddon’s pursuit of the Cubs job called “a classless act” by some in the game (121)
- Fox’s World Series broadcast gets a low grade from The New York Times (110)