MLB, MLBPA Announce Changes To Joint Drug Program

In a joint press release, Major League Baseball and the Major League Player's Association have announced a newly enhanced testing and suspension protocol in the Joint Drug Program (often abbreviated "JDA"). 

First come changes to the number of PED tests conducted. The new standards more than double the number of in-season random urine tests. Also, the number of random blood tests for hGH will increase to 400. 

Second, the new agreement enhances the suspension penalties that can be applied. A first offense will now carry an 80-game suspension; a second offense comes with a full-season, 162-game suspension and loss of the full year's salary; and a third offense will result in a permanent ban. Notably, also, a player hit with a suspension cannot return to play in that years post-season.

Notably, the new terms make clear that an Arbitration Panel may choose to reduce the discipline in the event that the player can prove that the use was not intended to enhance performance. But any player who has a suspension upheld will be subject to six additional random, unannounced urine tests and three blood tests for every year in the remainder of his career.

Several months back, I took a look at the question of how best to craft deterrents to curb PED use, and argued that merely enhancing the current regime would not provide the best set of disincentives (for all parties involved). Of course, it is worth noting that today's agreement comes well in advance of its December 1, 2016 expiration. And, as ESPN's T.J. Quinn assesses things on Twitter, with these enhancements, MLB is "now miles ahead of NFL, and light years ahead of NBA, NHL, [and] FIFA" in its PED program.

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