MLB, MLBPA reportedly nearing changes to drug policy

Patrick McDermott

Under baseball's new drug policy, which could be in place as early as Sunday, first-time offenders could see their penalty double from 50 to 100 games.

Major League Baseball and its players union are close to an agreement on major changes to the sport's drug policy that would both increase the penalties for most violations and decrease penalties for inadvertent use, per a report by Ronald Blum of the Associated Press.

Blum reports that the two sides hope to have an agreement in place by Sunday night, when the Dodgers and Padres open the domestic portion of the 2014 regular season with a game in San Diego.

The new penalties, which are still under discussion, could be 100 games for first-time offenders and a season-long ban for a second violation. The current policy, in place since 2006, calls for 50 games for first-time offenders, 100 games for second violations and a lifetime ban for a third violation.

In a compromise, the new policy would call for only a 25-game ban for inadvertent use, with a cited example by Blum of Freddy Galvis of the Phillies, suspended 50 games in 2012 for a positive test for Clostebol Metabolite stemming from foot cream use.

"What we're all here for it to rid sports of the intentional cheats, those who are intending to defraud both the fans and their fellow teammates, the integrity of competition," U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart told Blum. "You want to have provisions in place that allow for whether there's an inadvertent or a truly non-intentional situation which may arise."

Blum also reported the new agreement will close a loophole in the future that happens to benefit Alex Rodriguez this year. Rodriguez was suspended for the entire 2014 season, but under the old system that suspension only forfeits his pay for 162 days during the season. Since players are paid over the course of a 183-day regular season, Rodriguez in 2014 will be paid 21 days worth of his $25 million salary, or $2,868,852.

Under the new system, all season long suspensions would forfeit the entire year's salary.

Rodriguez was one of 14 players suspended as part of MLB's investigation into the Biogenesis clinic in Florida, none of which were a result of a positive test under baseball's drug policy. As Blum notes, that provision will be addressed:

The section covering violations not related to positive tests, which was used by Selig in the Biogenesis case, will be clarified but still will allow discipline for "just cause."

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