Major League Baseball considering stiffer penalties for drug use
Says players want offenders punished
The head of the Major League Baseball Players Association says more and more players are speaking out against drug cheats and debating whether even more stringent penalties are needed.
Michael Weiner, the players' union executive director, met with the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday as part of his spring training visits with teams.
"More and more players are vocal about their desire to have a clean game," Weiner told reporters later. "More and more players are vocal about being willing to accept sacrifices in terms of testing in order to make sure we have a clean game.
"Players at this point have very little patience for players that are trying to cheat the system, and they understand that year-around HGH (human growth hormone) testing is an important component of deterrence."
He said he will be speaking with players named in a report by the Miami New Times as having allegedly purchased performance-enhancing drugs from a defunct Florida anti-aging clinic.
Weiner noted that major league baseball, with a 50-game ban for first-time drug offenders, has the harshest penalties among North American team sports.
"We have a very strong penalty," he said. "And there is a reasonable debate you could have in this context, in the criminal justice context, as to whether increasing the likelihood of detection is the way to deter or increasing the penalty. There's a lot of very serious study that says it doesn't matter what the penalty is, it matters whether you think you're going to get caught. And we focused this off-season on making it more likely that players are going to get caught. And I explained that to players, what we've done in terms of HGH and testosterone testing in particular.
"I'm not surprised that there is greater frustration about the Miami stories because again players are sick of this issue. Whether there's anything to these stories or not, they're sick of this issue. And so it's natural for a lot of guys to say maybe we need stiffer penalties."
The earliest any changes to sanctions could be made is 2014, he added.
The 2013 testing season has already started and Weiner said even he does not know how many times a player might get tested.
That is up to the independent doctor from the University of Connecticut who administers the testing program.
He decides how many what the union calls "draws" in terms of random blood and urine testing there are during a year. Players' names are put in the draw whether they have been already tested or not.
"I don't know what that limit is," Weiner said of the number of tests. "That's his call."
Players like Toronto's Melky Cabrera who have tested positive do undergo six more subsequent tests in addition to random tests.