Skip to content

MLB, MLBPA announce stronger testing, harsher penalties for PEDs

Mar 28, 2014, 4:44 PM EDT

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. Rays designate Grant Balfour for assignment

    Apr 18, 2015, 11:26 PM EDT

    Grant Balfour Grant Balfour

    Grant Balfour was designated for assignment following a disastrous Saturday night against the Yankees.

  2. Joe Nathan throws off a mound for the first time since suffering an elbow injury

    Apr 18, 2015, 11:01 PM EDT

    Joe Nathan Joe Nathan

    Joe Nathan could be activated from the disabled list as soon as Wednesday.

  3. A fun story involving Terry Francona and his dad Tito

    Apr 18, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT

    Terry Francona Terry Francona

    If you’re in the mood for a laugh, you’ll want to read this story involving Indians manager Terry Francona and his dad Tito.

  4. Video: Watch Kris Bryant get his first major league hit and RBI

    Apr 18, 2015, 9:10 PM EDT

    Kris Bryant Kris Bryant

    Kris Bryant, one of baseball’s top prospects, earned his first major league hit and RBI on Saturday afternoon against the Padres.

  5. Yordano Ventura ejected for hitting Brett Lawrie with a pitch

    Apr 18, 2015, 8:16 PM EDT

    Yordano Ventura Yordano Ventura

    More drama involving the Athletics and Royals.

  6. There’s some drama about Brett Lawrie apologizing to Alcides Escobar

    Apr 18, 2015, 7:45 PM EDT

    Brett Lawrie Brett Lawrie

    Did Brett Lawrie apologize to Alcides Escobar for his hard slide in Friday’s game between the Athletics and Royals? We’re not sure.

  7. Ryan Braun is batting leadoff for the first time in his career

    Apr 18, 2015, 6:55 PM EDT

    Ryan Braun Ryan Braun

    Ryan Braun will lead off for the first time in his career in Saturday’s game against the Pirates.

  8. Giants place Jake Peavy on the disabled list

    Apr 18, 2015, 6:05 PM EDT

    Jake Peavy Jake Peavy

    Jake Peavy is dealing with lower back issues.

  9. UPDATE: Billy Hamilton is day-to-day with right groin soreness

    Apr 18, 2015, 5:32 PM EDT

    cD05ODdlNmNhY2MwMjRlZWQzNTJhM2ViYTQ1Y2VlY2YzOCZnPTc5MTIzY2UzNzg2NGNhZTI2ODExODRkZDlmOWViMmVm Getty Images

    Hamilton suffered the injury beating out an infield single in the eighth inning.

  10. Justin Verlander has throwing session pushed back due to lingering soreness in throwing arm

    Apr 18, 2015, 5:25 PM EDT

    Justin Verlander Justin Verlander

    Justin Verlander’s return to the Tigers doesn’t appear imminent.

  11. Josh Hamilton filed for a divorce from his wife in February

    Apr 18, 2015, 5:20 PM EDT

    Los Angels Angels newly acquired outfielder Hamilton talks with reporters as his wife, Katie, looks on during a news conference in Anaheim Reuters

    Hamilton filed for divorce in late February, which is right around the time when word leaked about his offseason drug relapse.

  12. Pete Rose joins FOX as a baseball analyst

    Apr 18, 2015, 4:19 PM EDT

    pete rose getty Getty Images

    You’ll be seeing MLB’s all-time hits leader Pete Rose in FOX’s coverage of baseball this season.

  13. VIDEO: Bryce Harper hit a mammoth home run today vs. the Phillies

    Apr 18, 2015, 4:12 PM EDT

    Bryce Harper AP

    The home run traveled at a distance of 461 feet. My goodness.

  14. Home plate umpire Brian Knight leaves game after being hit in mask by pitch

    Apr 18, 2015, 3:58 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Detroit Tigers Getty Images

    Scary moment in today’s Phillies-Nationals game, as home plate umpire Brian Knight was forced to exit after he was hit in the facemask by a pitch in the top of the ninth inning.

  15. Royals closer Greg Holland placed on disabled list with pectoral strain

    Apr 18, 2015, 3:47 PM EDT

    Greg Holland AP

    Greg Holland has been one of the game’s best relievers dating back to 2011, but the Royals will have to make due without him for a little while.

  16. Matt Holliday exits game with back tightness

    Apr 18, 2015, 2:56 PM EDT

    St. Louis Cardinals v Cincinnati Reds Getty Images

    The Cardinals are calling Holliday’s exit “precautionary,” so it’s probably safe to consider him day-to-day.

  17. Marlins claim left-hander Matt Tracy off waivers from Yankees

    Apr 18, 2015, 2:27 PM EDT

    Matt Tracy AP

    Tracy, 26, was designated for assignment by the Yankees last Sunday.

  18. Yunel Escobar to undergo MRI for groin injury

    Apr 18, 2015, 2:11 PM EDT

    Washington Nationals v Philadelphia Phillies Getty Images

    The Nats’ infield depth is being tested in the early part of the season.

  19. Jonathan Schoop diagnosed with PCL tear and MCL sprain in right knee

    Apr 18, 2015, 1:24 PM EDT

    poses on photo day at Ed Smith Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Sarasota, Florida. Getty Images

    Schoop was off to a nice start so far this season, batting .259 (7-for-27) with three home runs and a .940 OPS over nine games.

  20. Reds activate Homer Bailey from disabled list to make season debut

    Apr 18, 2015, 1:01 PM EDT

    Homer Bailey AP

    Reds right-hander Homer Bailey landed on the disabled list at the end of spring training while he completed his rehab from surgery to repair a tear of the flexor tendon in his elbow, but he has been activated to make his season debut this afternoon against the Cardinals.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. D. Span (3725)
  2. A. Ottavino (3699)
  3. J. Hamilton (3402)
  4. Y. Puig (3402)
  5. D. Mesoraco (3383)