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Major League Baseball Increases Punishments For Drug Violations

While increasing punishment for violators, MLB will also reduce suspensions for those who unintentionally used drugs.

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The poster child of drugs in baseball. Photo via

By McCarton Ackerman

03/28/14

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The start of the 2014 Major League Baseball season kicks off on Sunday, but so too will the league's new drug policy, which is considered by many to be the strictest in all of professional sports. The old policy called for a 50-game suspension for a positive drug test, while a second violation results in a 100-game suspension. But the new policy will dole out 80-game suspensions for the first offense and a season-long suspension for a second violation.

While the new policy is designed to increase punishments for those who intentionally use performance enhancing drugs or other illicit substances, it will actually reduce suspensions for those who unintentionally use them. These players currently receive 50-game suspensions, but that will be reduced to 25 games if it is deemed that drug use was inadvertent. Examples of inadvertent drug use include Philadelphia Phillies infielder Freddy Galvis, who was suspended in June 2012 for testing positive for a clostebol metabolite after using an over-the-counter foot cream.

MLB officials have also quickly closed a loophole that allows players to still receive portions of their payment during season-long suspensions. Alex Rodriguez was suspended for the entire 2014 season as part of the ongoing Biogenesis investigation, but took advantage of language in the current policy which says that a player loses as many days’ pay as games he is suspended. Because a standard season is 162 games, an arbitrator ruled that he is untitled to 21-183rds of his $25 million salary, or $2,868,852. Under the new policy, players will not receive any compensation.

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