After the Biogenesis fiasco of 2013 and Alex Rodriguez's 162-game suspension for 2014, MLB and its players wanted stronger drug testing and longer suspensions for player's caught in violation of the JDA. Well, it's happened.
Both entities announced today that they've agreed on changes to MLB's drug testing program.
Here are the revised testing procedures:
- The number of in-season random urine collections will more than double beginning in the 2014 season (from 1,400 to 3,200), which are in addition to the mandatory urine collections that every player is subjected to both during Spring Training and the Championship Season. This represents the largest increase in testing frequency in the Program's history.
- Blood collections for hGH detection - which remains the most significant hGH blood testing program of its kind in American professional sports - 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 (IRMS) will be randomly performed on at least one specimen from every player in addition to any IRMS test that the laboratory conducts as a result of the parties' longitudinal profiling program (which was implemented prior to the 2013 season) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) guidelines for conducting IRMS.
And here are the harsher penalties:
- A first-time performance-enhancing substance 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 (and a loss of 183 days of pay), increased from 100 games. A third violation will result in a permanent suspension from Baseball.
- A Player who is suspended for a violation involving a performance-enhancing substance will be ineligible to participate in the Postseason, and will not be eligible for an automatic share of the Player's Pool provided to players on Clubs who participate in the Postseason. (Such Players are already ineligible to participate in the All-Star Game.)
- 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.
Soon-to-be-retired Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig released this statement:
"Major League Baseball is proud to announce some of the most significant improvements that we have made to our Program in recent years. Although we had the strongest Program in professional sports before these changes, I am committed to constantly finding ways to improve the Program in order to eradicate performance-enhancing drugs from the game and for MLB to serve as a model for other drug programs. I want to express my appreciation to the Players for being proactive and showing remarkable leadership in producing the new agreement. I commend them for both their foresight and their creativity throughout this process, and for strongly sharing our desire to improve what is already the toughest drug program in sports."
And newly elected MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark said:
"Experience proves that increased penalties alone are not sufficient; that's why the Players pushed for a dramatic increase in the frequency and sophistication of our tests, as well as comprehensive changes in a number of other areas of the program that will serve as a deterrent. 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."
No word from Alex Rodriguez on these developments but I'm sure the Daily News will try to get in touch with him.
My opinion, not that you asked, is that these new penalties seem a little too harsh and they seem to be born out of the fact that MLB got egg on its face when the Biogenesis mess surfaced. If that many guys were connected to the place in South Florida and didn't fail tests, there were definitely more players around baseball who weren't caught.