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Home » OpinionsJanuary 2005 » Bulking Up the Steroid Policy

Bulking Up the Steroid Policy

MLB is finally attempting to strengthen its steroid policy. Facing threatened legislation and grand jury testimony leaks, Bud Selig unveiled new measures today at the owners’ meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona. ESPN revealed some of the details of the stiffer penalties. The bans below are all without pay, with the previous punishment follows in parentheses:

  • 1st positive test: 10-day ban (“treatment”)
  • 2nd positive test: 30-day ban (15-day suspension or $10,000 fine)
  • 3rd positive test: 60-day ban (25-day suspension or $25,000 fine)
  • 4th positive test: 1-year ban (50-day suspension or $50,000 fine)
  • 5th positive test: Discipline determined by the commissioner (1-year suspension or $100,000)

Notably, stricter penalties for amphetamines are not part of the plan. It is widely believed that stimulants, or “greenies,” are a larger problem than steroids in baseball. The Olympic banned substance policy is stricter with this category of drugs. While I understand that the nature of the 162-game season is grueling, I am disappointed that the league did not take this opportunity to take stronger action against amphetamines. Since only the hot topic, steroids, is addressed, the policy change smacks of a public relations ploy.

Only players’ urine, not blood, will be tested. This limitation means that use of human growth hormone will go undetected, since only blood tests can reveal this substance. Again, this aspect of the policy seems to be hurriedly put together due to public pressure.

The MLBPA still needs to vote to pass this policy. I hope that they will take what the owners have agreed to, but add some foresight to the plan. How about including provisions for testing of any future performance-enhancing substances, so that baseball does not again find itself with “tainted” records? If the parties are truly interested in cleaning up the game, these seemingly stopgap measures are a start, but an in-depth, comprehensive plan addressing amphetamines and yet-to-be-invented compounds should be considered.

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