FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reports that MLB has shot down a union plan that would set up different penalties for those who test positive for perf0rmance-enhancing drugs.
While the current system calls for a 50-game ban for a first violation, 100 games for a second a lifetime ban for a third, the union is reportedly open to harsher penalties for intended cheaters. One possibility for such a harsher penalty would be a one-year ban for a first violation and a lifetime ban for a second.
However, the only way the union would go that route is if the door was still open for unintended violators to serve lesser penalties. If a player could demonstrate that his positive test was the result of a tainted supplement, then the punishment could revert to 50 games.
Personally, I’m all for such a system; it’s fine to let the true cheaters rot if the door can be left ajar for someone who wasn’t necessarily trying to game the system. MLB, however, views such a plan as a non-starter, according to Rosenthal.
Baseball views different sets of punishments as impractical, sources say, believing it would be difficult to establish which players used intentionally and which did not.
To some players, the distinction is important, but baseball considers “strict liability” an important part of its program. Under strict liability, a person is responsible for his offense regardless of culpability.
Yes, it would be difficult to establish. But it’d also be worth it to try. A fringe player could essentially have his career ended by a one-year ban. Even if you can’t get it right all of the time, it’d still be worth adding that shade of grey to separate the black and white.
Anyway, such an idea seems out for now. Which likely means that union will be disinclined to any sort of changes to the current rules until the collective-bargaining agreement expires after 2016.