MLB, MLBPA make revisions to drug policy

The Sports NetworkMarch 28, 2014 

New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association announced improvements to their Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program Friday, including an increase in the number of games violators will be suspended.

A first-time performance-enhancing substance violation will now result in an unpaid 80-game suspension, increased from 50 games, while a second violation will carry an unpaid 162-game suspension, increased from 100 games. A third violation will still result in a permanent ban from MLB.

Players who are suspended for PEDs will also be barred from participating in the postseason, regardless of when the player's suspension ends, and will not be eligible for an automatic share of the player's pool provided to players on clubs who make the playoffs.

"Major League Baseball is proud to announce some of the most significant improvements that we have made to our Program in recent years," MLB commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "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."

The improvements also included the advent of further testing for players suspended for PEDs, who will now be subject to six additional urine tests and three additional blood tests, all unannounced, during every subsequent year of their entire careers.

The number of in-season random urine collections for all players will more than double from 1,400 to 3,200 beginning in the 2014 season, while blood collections for human growth hormone 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.

"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," MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said. "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."

Other significant elements of the revisions included:

- 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.

- The parties provided the Arbitration Panel with the ability to reduce a player's discipline (subject to certain limitations) for the use of certain types of performance-enhancing substances if the player proves at a hearing that the use was not intended to enhance performance.

- The parties added DHEA to the list of banned substances and enhanced the confidentiality provisions of the Program.

The modifications announced Friday by the MLB and MLBPA to the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program were the most extensive since 2006.

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