Via the AP –
Baseball players and management hope to reach a new drug agreement this week that would increase initial penalties for muscle-building steroids and allow a decrease of suspensions for some positive tests caused by unintentional use, people familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.
For future suspensions, the deal also would eliminate the loophole allowing Alex Rodriguez to earn almost $3 million during his season-long ban, the people said. They spoke on condition of anonymity in recent days because talks are ongoing.
The sides hope to reach an agreement by Sunday, when the Los Angeles Dodgers open the U.S. portion of the major league schedule at the San Diego Padres.
While the lengths have not been finalized, a person involved with the talks said Wednesday the most likely penalties would be about 80 games for an initial testing violation and a season-long ban for a second.
“It will be a significant deterrent because players will know they’re not going to just easily walk back into a lineup,” Travis Tygart, chief executive officer of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, said in a telephone interview. “It probably is the best policy in professional sports.”
For use of a limited group of substances, the sides were discussing giving the arbitration panel that hears appeals grievances the authority to reduce suspensions by as much as 50 percent if the player proves the positive test was caused by unintentional use, the person said.
“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,” Tygart said. “You want to have provisions in place that allow for whether there’s an inadvertent or a truly non-intentional situation which may arise.”
Since the 2006 season, the Major League Baseball’s drug agreement has called for a 50-game suspension for a first positive steroids test, a 100-game ban for a second and a lifetime penalty for a third.
Seems fair. But, still, it’s a uphill fight as long as the developers are still a step ahead of the testers…