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New Steroid Rules For Baseball

Saying it wanted to restore confidence in the game, baseball rolled out a tougher steroid-testing program Thursday that includes penalties for first-time offenders and random, year-round checks.

"I've been saying for some time my goal for this industry is zero tolerance toward steroids," baseball commissioner Bud Selig said.

A first positive test would result in a suspension of up to 10 days, a second positive test a 30-day ban, a third positive a 60-day penalty, and a fourth positive test a one-year ban.

Under the previous agreement, a first positive test resulted only in treatment, and a second positive test was subject to a 15-day suspension. Only with a fifth positive test was a player subject to a one-year ban under the old plan.

But, as CBS News Correspondent Lee Cowan reports, the new standards aren't as touch as Olympic anti-doping standards. Even Minor League baseball has tougher rules.

Since the old agreement was reached in 2002, the sport has come under increased scrutiny about steroids. Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield testified before a federal grand jury investigating a California lab, and President Bush brought up the steroids issue in a State of the Union address.

"We're acting today to help restore the confidence of our fans," Selig said.

The new standards come in the wake of a threat by US lawmakers who were set to introduce legislation for minimum drug-testing standards for all professional sports. So, Cowan reports, political pressure might have had a lot to do with Thursday's announcement.

"This is dramatic and significant progress from what the case was before," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Players like Carl Everett of the Chicago White Sox says he s for the testing but not sure it s necessary.

"If it works, it works," Everett said. "So I don't think it is going to change the game."

In addition to the one mandatory test of each player each season, players will randomly be selected for additional tests, with no maximum. In addition, players will randomly be selected for testing during the offseason.

Rob Manfred, the executive vice president for labor relations for Major League Baseball, outlined the major parts of the new agreement:

  • There will be year-round testing for steroids for all players.
  • There will also be off-season testing.
  • Major League Baseball is expanding its list of banned substances.
  • First-time offenders will be suspended for ten days without pay. Second-time offenders will be suspended for 30 days. A third offense will bring a 60-day suspension. A fourth offense would mean a one-year suspension.

    Human Growth Hormone was added to the list of banned substances; amphetamines were not.

    "I'm glad we could come to an agreement," said Chicago Cubs pitcher Mike Remlinger, who was briefed on the deal. "It was the right thing to do. I think it was something that needed to be done, and I think players understand it needed to be addressed."

    The sides spent the past month negotiating the deal after the union's executive board gave its staff approval to pursue an agreement on a more rigorous testing program. Some in Congress threatened to take action unless baseball reached an agreement on its own.

    Tony Clark, another senior union leader, said public questions about steroid use had caused players to think about a tougher agreement.

    "The integrity of our game was beginning to come under fire, and there are too many great players, past and present, that deserve to be celebrated for their ability to play this game at a very high level," the free-agent first baseman said in an e-mail to the AP. "If a stricter drug policy brings that level of appreciation back, we felt that it was worth pursuing."

    Players and owners agreed to a drug-testing plan in 2002 that called for survey-testing for steroids the following year. Because more than 5 percent of tests were positive, random testing with penalties began last year. Each player was tested for steroids twice over a single five- to seven-day period.

    A first positive test resulted in treatment. If a player tested positive again, he would have been subject to a 15-day suspension.

    No player was suspended for steroid use in 2004.

    Since the 2002 agreement, baseball has come under increased scrutiny for steroid use. Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield testified before a federal grand jury in December 2003. Giambi and Sheffield admitted using steroids, according to reports by the San Francisco Chronicle. Sheffield said he wasn't aware when he used the substances that they contained steroids.

    Bonds, according to the paper, admitted using substances prosecutors say contained steroids.

    "Everybody believed that the program we had in place was having an effect and definitely it was doing what it designed to do," Glavine said, "but having said that, with the stuff that was going on and whatnot, it forced us to take a look at revising it or making it a little tougher."

    "It was not a question anymore if that agreement was going to be enough," he continued. "It was a question to address some of the new issues that came to light and get our fans to believe we were doing everything we could to make the problem go away 100 percent."

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