Wednesday, January 19, 2005

From the dugout to the on-deck circle

Major League Baseball has stiffened its anti-drugs measures. No longer will drugs offenders be anonymously sent to counseling. Now a first time offender will be outed and suspended for 10 days. A second offense will get a 30-day suspension. A third offense will get a 60-day suspension and a fourth offense will mean a one year ban. A fifth offense is at the Commissioner's discretion.

It's a step in the right direction. I think 30 days should be a minimum suspension for a first positive test and a one year ban should follow a second offense. Any offense after that should mean a life-time ban.

Another improvement is that baseball will now have random testing throughout the season and off-season. Something they didn't have before now. This is a positive development, but the testing should be more rigorous than simple urine tests. Blood tests should be included now and the players and owners should agree that any trustworthy tests that are developed in the coming years should be incorporated into the testing regime.

The owners and the players both have an interest in ridding the game of the doubt that many fans now have. When they make the penalties a bit more painful and have shown a keen desire to employ all methods to ensure that no player is cheating, then they will be ready to step confidently into the batters box to face whatever the chemists can hurl at them.