Major League Baseball's team owners have announced a tougher anti-steroid program that they hope will keep players from using the performance-enhancing substances. The plan includes more stringent penalties and random testing.
Baseball's new anti-steroids plan calls for a 10-day suspension for first time offenders. Should a player have a second positive drug test, the punishment would be a 30-day suspension. A third positive test would earn a 60-day penalty while a fourth positive test would result in a one-year ban.
Under baseball's previous policy, a first positive test only required treatment. Five positive tests were needed before a player would be banned for one year. Now, players will also be subject to one mandatory test per year and will be randomly selected during the season for additional tests. Players will also be subject to random tests in the off-season.
Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said in Scottsdale, Arizona Thursday that his goal is to eliminate steroid use in baseball.
"I have been saying for sometime that my goal for this industry is zero tolerance regarding steroids. The agreement today is an important step towards achieving that goal. We are acting today to help restore the confidence of our fans and this great game," he said.
Steroid use among athletes has raised the attention of lawmakers in Washington. During his annual State of the Union address last year, President Bush called for the elimination of steroids from baseball. Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, the chairman of the U.S. Senate's Commerce Committee that oversees baseball, has called for tougher sanctions, but Senator McCain says baseball's new steroid program moves in the right direction.
"I applaud the players and management for what they have achieved. And, no, it is not everything that I had wanted. But it is certainly significant progress," he said.
Senator McCain says he would like to see a permanent ban for baseball players who are caught using steriods multiple times.
The sport has come under increased scrutiny since New York Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi, San Francisco outfielder Barry Bonds and Gary Sheffield of the New York Yankees testified before a grand jury investigating a San Francisco-area laboratory. Giambi testified he used steroids, while Bonds said he never knowingly took performance-enhancing drugs.