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US Senate Proposes New Punishment for Athletes Found Guilty of Doping

Professional athletes who test positive for performance-enhancing drugs would be banned for a half-season instead of two years for a first offense under a measure proposed to gain support for steroid legislation in the U.S. Senate.

Lawmakers eased the proposed penalties Tuesday in an effort to get a vote on the legislation this week. The bill also contains a one-season ban for a second offense and a lifetime ban for a third. It would apply to Major and Minor League Baseball, the National Football League, National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League.

Tougher bills that would have standardized steroid rules across U.S. professional sports have been proposed in the House and Senate in recent months. They were based on Olympic rules which call for a two-year suspension for a first drug offense, a lifetime ban for a second.

The leagues and their players' unions say those penalties are too harsh. They want to continue to set their own drug testing rules and penalties through collective bargaining.

The Senate bill mandates that players each be tested at least five times a year. The legislation would take effect a year after being signed into law.