Right around the eve of the meaningful beginning of the 2014 regular season, baseball has announced an enhanced Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. You can read the details right here, but the primary takeaway is that now a first-time PED violation will result in an 80-game suspension, and a second-time PED violation will result in a 162-game suspension. A third violation still earns a lifetime ban, since it’s not very easy to make that penalty tougher without breaking actual laws. Also, a player suspended for a violation will no longer be eligible for that year’s postseason.
Of course, there are other enhancements, too. And it should be noted that the majority of the players have been supportive of tougher penalties for users. Many of the players want to play within a clean game, and they’re not fans of what users do for the perception of themselves and everyone else. In that way, perhaps this shouldn’t be viewed as a concession, but one bullet point in there shows that the players got something extra for themselves in return.
From the linked article:
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
Let’s go back to last March. Ken Rosenthal:
One day after sources said that Major League Baseball had “no interest” in a two-tiered penalty system, a player familiar with discussions on the subject said that commissioner Bud Selig “may as well start trying to forget” tougher penalties if baseball will not consider such an idea.
Under a two-tiered system, players who intentionally violate the drug-testing program would receive harsher punishment than players who test positive unintentionally or due to negligence.
It would appear that MLB gave in, introducing something of a two-tiered system in exchange for stretching suspensions. That’s the way collective bargaining works — MLB wanted something, so MLB had to give something, and now they’ve re-achieved equilibrium. Of course, instances of accidental violations are unusual, but they’ve been known to happen in the past and now players can feel as if they have added protection.
Some other changes: a full-year suspension means a full year without pay, as opposed to 162/183 of a full year without pay. There will also be additional testing, including more blood collection for hGH detection. And this is of interest, so as to get fewer of the “tainted supplement” explanations for positive tests:
The parties established a program in which Players will have year-round access to supplements that will not cause a positive test result and which will improve home and visiting weight rooms.
Without doubt, the biggest question on everyone’s mind: why 80 games, and not 81? The rest makes good enough sense. That bit’s weird.
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