After last year’s Biogenesis scandal resulted in 13 suspensions in August as well as the suspension of former National League MVP Ryan Braun in July and three other players—including former Oakland Athletics pitcher Bartolo Colon and former San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera—in 2012, the Major League Baseball Players Association and Major League Baseball are reportedly discussing the possibility of making the penalties stiffer for violations of the Joint Drug Agreement.
Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com reported on Tuesday that the penalty scale is among several issues being discussed as the two sides conduct an annual review of the collective bargaining agreement.
Of course, the biggest fish caught in the Biogenesis frying pan was erstwhile New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, who appealed his 211-game penalty and had it reduced by an arbitrator to the entire 2014 season—162 games plus any postseason games the Yankees qualify for. Rodriguez has responded to the decision by suing MLB and the players union.
The current JDA expires in December 2016 and currently calls for players to be suspended 50 games for a first offense, 100 games for a second and a lifetime ban for a third positive test.
However, many of the Biogenesis players accepted their penalties in spite of there not being positive test results. Instead, they were found to have violated the policy based on documents taken from the former Miami anti-aging clinic as well as testimony from the clinic’s founder, Anthony Bosch.
If adjustments to the penalty scale come out of these talks, it would not be the first time the JDA has been amended since it went into effect after the 2011 season. In January 2013, the players and MLB agreed to random, in-season blood tests for human growth hormone and so-called “longitudinal” testing to establish baseline testosterone levels for players in order to make detection of artificial increases in the male hormone more readily detectable.
PEDs continue to be a hot-button issue in MLB, even as they are largely ignored by many fans in the other three major North American professional sports. Even with more NFL players being hit with suspensions for violating that league’s anti-PED policies, there never seems to be the uproar that there is when a baseball player is found to have doctored his batting average or ERA with artificial sweeteners.
The NBA has had a whopping one suspension for PED violations, Hedo Turkoglu, then of the Orlando Magic, last season. Many fans laugh at the notion of PEDs in basketball because of the long-held and completely mistaken belief that PEDs are just for bulking up. You know, because a basketball player would get absolutely no benefit from substances that would allow them to run longer, jump more quickly and recover more rapidly, not with a schedule packed with games on back-to-back nights.
Similarly, fans seem to be much, much less concerned about “thinking about the poor children” when a player is caught who isn’t a major star. Instead, jokes are made about the guy in question not even being able to cheat correctly.
If it seems I am weary of the hypocrisy of both the media and the fans as it relates to the subject of PEDs, it would be because I am extraordinarily tired of the hypocrisy of both the media and the fans as it relates to performance-enhancing substances.
I would never advocate the head-in-the-sand policy popularized by baseball’s leadership in the 1980s and 1990s, but at the same time, I don’t understand how it can be the worst thing to ever happen to MLB and be no big deal in the NFL.
Unless, of course, you believe that gentlemen who stand 6-foot-5, weigh 260 pounds, have 31-inch waistlines, can bench press 400 pounds and run a 4.5 40-yard dash are a naturally occurring phenomenon.