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Baseball Adds Muscle to Steroid Punishment

November 16, 2005|Tim Brown | Times Staff Writer

Twelve major league players were suspended for steroid use last season, the first time players had been disciplined for positive tests. Under the new policy, a second positive from those players would be considered a first offense because the disciplinary measures have been increased.

According to Rob Manfred, baseball's executive vice president for labor relations, the policy will run through the end of the next labor agreement. The current pact expires in a year. It is the first to include testing and discipline for amphetamines, for which a first positive test would require mandatory additional testing, leading to suspensions of 25 and 80 games for second and third positives.

Like others before it, the policy bans human growth hormone. It does not, however, test for HGH, which can be detected only through a blood test. Baseball tests through urine samples.

Also in the agreement, players convicted of steroid possession would be suspended for as many as 80 games for a first offense, and up to one year for a second offense. Players would be subject to two mandatory random tests a year, in and out of season, including at least once during spring training.

Testing and administration would be managed by an independent body, rather than the current committee run jointly by management and union officials. Manfred said the appeal process is being finalized but that he expected it to be shortened.

"Sounds good to me," Dodger pitcher Brad Penny said of the agreement. "Either way, I don't care. If you are dumb enough to take them and get caught, then the penalty should be 50 games."

Some players, while welcoming the policy, feared the repercussions of a false positive or foul play.

"If it's going to keep coming up, keep being an issue, I guess this is one way to pretty much end it," Angel second baseman Adam Kennedy said. "... Ten games ... you get refreshed. Fifty games, it's going to be tough to recover from that."

He added, however: "What is to stop an opposing clubhouse attendant from putting something in Vlad's [Guerrero] food or drink coming down the stretch run? ...

"There are issues, and I'm not sure how they'll be resolved, but those kinds of issues came up among players."

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Times staff writers Mike DiGiovanna, Steve Henson and Ryan Murphy contributed to this report.

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