Major League Baseball and the players association announced changes today to their Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment program, lengthening suspensions for players caught across the board, likely in response to the PR nightmare the league experienced last summer.
Some of the notable changes are as follows:
- First time offenders will now be suspended for 80 games as opposed to 50.
- Second time offenders will now sit out an entire 162 games, and will not be paid at all for an entire 183 day league year. This is up from 100 games.
- Players caught even just once will be subjected to extra testing for the rest of their careers.
- Players testing positive will no longer be allowed to play in the postseason in that season.
- Players will now have access to particular supplements that will not cause positive tests. These supplements will be supplied by teams.
Third time offenders will still be permanently banned from baseball.
All of this comes after a disastrous round of suspensions last season, which included Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, and Jhonny Peralta. Peralta’s situation was especially controversial as he was, after he served his suspension, allowed to return to his team for postseason play. Under the new rules, this type of situation can’t happen again.
League drug policies have come under intense scrutiny over the past year, with many critics saying the punishments aren’t harsh enough. Before today, the league and union hadn’t updated their drug policies since 2006, and players like Ryan Braun (and presumably others) have evaded the system. This still may not be enough to stop drug use completely (only a lifetime ban for first time use can do that), but it may deter drug use at least a little bit more, and every little bit helps.