Mar 28, 2014; Fort Myers, FL, USA; A major league baseball is seen the in the dugout during the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Baseball's Anti-Drug Program Gets More Teeth

 

Baseball’s program to curb PED use – already the toughest in sports – just got a few more teeth in it today.

“Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association jointly announced today significant improvements to virtually every component of their Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. In making the most extensive modifications to the program since 2006, MLB and the MLBPA continue to take steps to ensure that baseball has the most comprehensive drug program of any professional sports organization in the world.”  (source link here)

 

The Changes

  • In-season random urine collections are increasing starting immediately.  There had been a cap of 1,400 collections.  It’s now 3,200.  All players were already required to submit to both Spring Training and Playoff time mandatory collections:  this means more random tests.
  • HGH detections via blood test.  400 random collections per year on top of 1,200 mandatory Spring Training collections.
  • Penalty Increases.
    • First-time PED use:  80 game suspension, unpaid (no, Julien, in answer to your tweet, I have no idea why they didn’t go to 81 games – exactly half a season).  This was 50 games, previously.
    • Second-time PED use:  162 game suspension and loss of one calendar year’s pay.  Increased from 100 games.
    • Three strikes and you’re out.  Banned from the game.
    • Penalties are going to include any playoff monies – my reading is that this applies to any player penalized for part of a season; even if the playoffs are not part of the suspension.
  • If you are caught and subject to one of these penalties, then you can expect six additional unannounced urine collections and three more blood tests – every year for the rest of your career.
  • On top of the regular testing, at least one specimen from every player will be randomly selected for a Carbon Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IRMS) test.  This can differentiate natural from synthetic hormones in the body.
  • DHEA is now on the banned list.
    • “Dehydroepiandrosterone” or OVARES (brand name).  There are other names for it as well.
    • Produced naturally in the adrenal glands
    • Effects unclear, but it popular for anti-aging treatments, and hormone acceleration (especially thought to assist testosterone).

 

The Player’s will get a bit in return for this dramatically increased scrutiny:

  • A new program is established to identify and provide year-round access to supplements that are approved for use and will not lead to positive tests.
  • Arbitration panels will have the power to reduce penalties under some circumstances when using certain PEDs if the player proves at a hearing that the use was not for the purpose of enhancing performance.
  • Confidentiality of the program has been enhanced.

 

That said, Commissioner Bug Selig noted specifically that it was the players themselves who made this new agreement happen:

“Make no mistake, this agreement underscores the undisputed reality that the players put forward many of the most significant changes reached in these negotiations because they want a fair and clean game.” – Bug Selig, emphasis added.

 

This was echoed by Player Representative Tony Clark in his statement (available at the prior link).  Clearly, it’s the players that want the game clean and are taking the initiative (note that the prior agreement was going to be in force through the end of 2016!) to make it happen.  Applause all around.

 

Baseball’s Clean:  What About Other Sports?

For whatever reason, baseball has received the most scrutiny of all sports – by far – with respect to Performance Enhancing Drugs.  They have responded – strongly.  Will any of the other major sports finally follow suit?

I’m expecting to hear the crickets.

 

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