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November 30, 2023

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MLB agrees to stronger steroid policy

WASHINGTON – Major league players and owners agreed to toughen penalties for steroid use to a 50-game suspension for a first failed test, 100 games for a second and a lifetime ban for a third.

Baseball will also test for amphetamines for the first time starting next year under the deal, which must be ratified by both sides.

Baseball’s current steroid penalties are a 10-day suspension for a first offense, 30 days for a second offense and 60 days for a third. The earliest a player could be banned for life is after a fifth offense.

“This is an important step to reaching our goal of ridding our sport of performance-enhancing substances and should restore the integrity of and public confidence in our great game,” commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. “I appreciate the effort put forward by the Players’ Association and our players in reaching this new agreement.”

After winning the NL MVP award Tuesday, the St. Louis Cardinals’ Albert Pujols said he supported the tougher punishments.

“I think that if you get caught the third time, I mean that’s real bad, you should get abandoned from the game,” Pujols said. “You shouldn’t be able to be caught the third time because after the first time, if you don’t learn from that, from 50 games that you sit down without getting paid, that’s pretty bad.”

The sport’s second new steroids agreement in 10 months came after lengthy negotiations prompted by urging from Congress – including the threat of legislation that would require higher penalties and stricter testing standards.

“This agreement reaffirms that major league players are committed to the elimination of performance-enhancing substances and that the system of collective bargaining is responsive and effective in dealing with issues of this type,” union head Donald Fehr said.

Representatives of the owners and players were on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to meet with House Government Reform Committee Chairman Tom Davis, R-Va. He’s one of a handful of lawmakers who have introduced steroids bills – and it was his panel that held the March 17 hearing with Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco.

At that hearing, Selig and Fehr were scolded for what congressmen called a weak penalty system for drug testing.

The next month, Selig made a 50-100-lifetime proposal.

The Players’ Association appeared to pretty much capitulate to Selig’s April demands, except for gaining the right to have an arbitrator review reinstatement decisions. Fehr was not available for comment a union spokesman said.

At a Sept. 28 hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., scolded Fehr in particular for not having reached a deal on a new steroids policy.

“We’re at the end here, and I don’t want to do it, but we need an agreement soon. It’s not complicated. All sports fans understand it,” McCain said at the hearing. “I suggest you act – and act soon.”

Last week, McCain and Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., revised their proposed legislation to soften the penalties from two years for a first offense and a lifetime ban for a second. The bill now calls for a half-season ban for a first positive test, one season for a second and a lifetime penalty for a third.


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