MLB, players reach new agreement on drugs
New penalties: 50 games for the first test, 100 games for a second test, and a lifetime ban for a third (which may, in practice, only last two years). Details are scarce, but it does not appear to address the “Mike Morse double-jeopardy” problem, where players can be punished repeatedly under both minor and major-league testing plans and suspended each time.
New testing: amphetamines will finally be tested for.
This alone is a huge story, and despite the focus on increased penalties, will have by far the greater impact. It’s just as large as the deal to begin steroid testing, or the follow-up agreement on penalties and treatment for “drugs of abuse” like heroin.
To put this another way: amphetamine abuse is as widespread as the most hysterical anti-steroid advocate believed juicing was. We are much more likely to see a significant and measurable performance decline by players in general from this than we were from even the most rigorous steroid testing regimen. I’m a little surprised that this came without a decrease in schedule length or larger rosters.
The new problem is testing for amphetamine abuse. It’s a lot tougher to detect than steroids, though some versions of the story say there are also going to be more frequent random tests. It’s also on a different penalty schedule than steroids: testing positive for amphetamines leads to more testing. A second result gets a 25-game suspension, and then a 60-game suspension for a third test (fourth positive test? new Cadillac).
Even limited testing of modest effectiveness will change the risk/reward calculation players are making before games, and that may have effects far more wide-spread than I’ve seen anyone mention yet. This is huge.