Major League Baseball and its players association announced significant changes to the league's current drug program that are expected to be finalized in the coming days, according to a press release provided by MLB on Friday.
According to the release, the new policy will make for stiffer drug penalties and allow for more widespread testing across the league. The changes will also allow for blood testing for human growth hormone.
MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark credits the players for helping initiate the change, per MLB.com:
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.
The MLB's public relations department released the following highlights of the new program on Friday:
New York Post baseball columnist Joel Sherman points out the penalties for players who test positive under the new joint drug policy:
First-time offenders will be suspended 80 games and second-time offenders will be suspended for an entire season (162 games). Those numbers are up significantly from the previous policy, which suspended players 50 games for a first-time offense and 100 games for a second-time offense.
A third offense will warrant a lifetime ban or "permanent suspension from baseball," per the league's press release.
The league also announced that a second violation will result in a loss of 183 days of salary.
NBC Sports breaks down another key addition to the program:
According to Fox Sports MLB reporter Ken Rosenthal, players who test positive under the new policy will be subject to unannounced testing:
By cracking down on performance-enhancing drugs, the MLB is making positive steps toward fielding a more credible product. And the majority, including NBC Sports' Patrick Daugherty, believe that doing so is what's best for baseball:
It remains to be seen how effective the league's new policy will be once finalized, but there's no doubt that the increased penalties for violating the program and thorough testing are sure to discourage players from experimenting with banned substances.
Last season's Biogenesis scandal was a major black eye on baseball, and although it will take time for the league to restore its reputation, this new drug policy is clearly a step in the right direction.
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