MLB, Players’ Association Agree to new Drug Policy

Major League Baseball and the Player’s Association have once again agreed to amend MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Most of the changes are derived from recommendations put forth by Senator George Mitchell in the Mitchell Report.

The most glaring omission was the refusal to turn over testing to an independent outside agency. Instead the sides agreed that the “Independent Program Administrator” (a position created in November 2005) “will be given an initial three-year term and can be removed only if an arbitrator finds cause.” The IPA could be removed by either MLB of the union at any time previous to the new agreement.

Congressmen Henry Waxman and Tom Davis, leaders of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform which held multiple hearings on drug use in sport, issued a joint statement saying they were “pleased that MLB has taken steps to strengthen its drug-testing policy.”

The changes didn’t go far enough for chairman of the committee that determines Worl Anti-Dpoing Agency’s banned-substances list, Gary Wadler.

“It’s another incremental step. It’s better than it was but not where it needs to be,” said Wadler, who faulted baseball for not adding blood testing for human growth hormone and for not turning over testing to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

“This still falls significantly short of the mark, no matter what internal bureaucracy they’ve patched together.”


Summary of changes to the agreement according to the Associated Press

  •  The Health Policy Advisory Committee is disbanded and HPAC’s responsibilities over performance enhancing drugs are given largely to the Independent Program Administrator, Dr. Bryan Smith, who can be renewed for successive four-year terms.
  • Decisions on ordering reasonable-cause testing will made jointly by management and the players’ association, with the matter going to an arbitrator if they disagree. Supervision over drugs of abuse is transferred from HPAC to a new management-union entity called the Treatment Board.
  • An additional 600 tests will be conducted annually, raising the total to 3,600.
  • Up to 375 tests may be conducted over the next three offseasons, up from 60 per offseason currently administered.
  • Records of negative tests will be kept for two years, but there is no requirement that urine samples be kept for lengthy periods.
  • Testing will include the top 200 prospects in each year’s amateur draft. Players who test positive remain eligible for selection. Players who refuse to test cannot be selected.
  • Players implicated in the Mitchell report will not be disciplined. Suspensions of Jose Guillen and Jay Gibbons (implicated in the investigation of internet pharmacies and anti-aging clinics) were also removed.
  • Players will join MLB efforts designed to educate youth and their parents regarding the dangers of performance-enhancing substances. The union will contribute $200,000 to an antidrug charitable, educational or research organization.
  • The IPA will issue an annual report summarizing the number of tests administered, the number of positive tests resulting in discipline, the substances involved in the positives, the number of Therapeutic Use Exemptions granted by category of ailment and the number of non-analytical positives.
  • An automatic stay for an initial suspension is expanded to players disciplined for conduct unrelated to a positive test.
  • The banned list is expanded to include insulin-like growth factor, gonadotropins, aromatase inhibitors, selective estrogen receptor modulators and antiestrogens, including clomid.
  • In future investigations, allegations of player misconduct will not be disclosed publicly by the commissioner’s office unless discipline is imposed. A player will be provided a description of evidence and allegations against him before any investigatory interview.
  • MLB will impose certification standards for strength and conditioning coaches starting in 2009.
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