NEW YORK (AFP) –
Major League Baseball players who violate the league’s anti-doping program will be ineligible for that season’s All-Star Game under one of several revisions to the program announced on Thursday.
Human growth hormone blood tests were added during pre-season training, the off-season and for reasonable cause, with the league and players union agreeing also to study ways to have HGH tests given during the six-month regular season.
League and players union officials announced the changes, some of which were approved before last year’s negotiations for a new contract. Others came after an overturned suspension this year involving Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun.
The Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program between the league and the union would now ban a player from the All-Star Game if he were suspended at any time from the end of a season up until the start of the All-Star break in July.
More detailed instructions involving delivery of doping samples to couriers and how such samples should be stored, key issues in Braun’s cases, were outlined in the revisions.
“These modifications to expand upon the comprehensive nature of our program are consistent with our efforts to ensure we are running the highest quality drug testing in professional sports,” said Major League Baseball executive vice president Rob Manfred.
“This agreement is a reflection of our commitment to monitoring our program and making upgrades in all possible areas in order to best serve our game.”
The number of random doping tests during the season and outside of the season were increased and announcements of suspensions will now permit the naming of a specific substance that caused a positive result or discipline.
Rules were also created to allow for evidence beyond test results, or non-analytical positives based upon doping evidence even without a positive drug test.
Increased penalties were approved for recreational drugs, including certain stimulants, and a protocol was set for evaluating and treating alcohol-related issues.
“These latest changes and revisions reflect the players’ desire to have the strongest possible drug prevention and treatment program in professional team sports,” players union executive director Michael Weiner said.