Major League Baseball players suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs will not be eligible for the postseason or for postseason shares under new rules enacted by MLB and the MLB Players Association Friday.
First-time offenders will receive an 80-game suspension, up from 50 games. A second violation will result in a full-season suspension and a loss of pay for 183 days, closing a loophole that allowed disgraced Yankees star Alex Rodriguez to collect $2.8 million last year. A third violation brings a permanent suspension.
Players across the game were angry last season when two players suspended for their role in the Biogenesis scandal — Detroit’s Jhonny Peralta and Nelson Cruz of Texas — were allowed to participate in the postseason after their 50-game suspensions were completed.
The number of urine samples collected will jump from 1,400 to 3,200. Blood samples to detect the use of human growth hormone will increase to 400 random tests beyond the 1,200 collected in spring training. That is designed to stop the use of fast-acting HGH agents that Rodriguez was accused of taking.
Players who are suspended will be subject to nine unannounced additional tests every season throughout their career, six urine and three blood.
Players now have the right to get suspensions reduced if they can prove their use of certain PEDs was not intentional.
The Red Sox and players from other teams have supported tougher penalties, which prompted the union to reopen discussions with MLB.
“Experience proves that increased penalties alone are not sufficient,” said Players Association executive director Tony Clark. “That’s why the players pushed for a dramatic increase in the frequency and sophistication of our tests, as well as comprehensive changes in a number of other areas of the program that will serve as a deterrent.
“Make no mistake, this agreement underscores the undisputed reality that the players put forward many of the most significant changes reached in these negotiations because they want a fair and clean game.”
Said commissioner Bud Selig, “I want to express my appreciation to the players for being proactive and showing remarkable leadership in producing the new agreement.”Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.