Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association announced a number of changes to their Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program on Friday. In what the league's release calls the "most extensive modifications to the Program since 2006," they announced changes that includes more testing and harsher penalties for those caught cheating.
The most notable change is obvious: A first-time violator of the performance-enhancing substance rule will now be suspended without pay for 80 games, which is an increase from the current number of 50 games. Second violations will result in an unpaid 162-game suspension, which is up from 100 games. A third violation will result in a permanent ban from MLB.
In-season urine collections will more than double beginning next season, from 1,400 today to 3,200. That is on top of the urine collections that every player is subjected to in spring training and the postseason. Speaking of postseason, players suspended for a violation of the performance-enhancing substance rules will be ineligible to participate in that year's postseason and will not be eligible for a share of the Player's Pool, regardless of when they return from said suspension.
For minor points, players who have violated in the past will be subject to further random testing than other players, the league will be providing supplements it considers safe on a more regular, easy-to-access basis and the league and Players Association added DHEA to the list of banned substances. The last point is notable, as both parties have been criticized in the past for allowing DHEA, or dehydroepiandrosterone, which is a legal steroid.
Commissioner Bud Selig called the changes "some of the most significant improvements that we have made to our Program in recent years." He then went on to say that baseball already had the strongest program in sports, but that these moves only further the cause, which is to "eradicate performance-enhancing drugs from the game."
MLBPA executive director Tony Clark noted that increases to the severity of the suspensions alone "are not sufficient," which is why the players pushed for a "dramatic increase in the frequency and sophistication of our tests."