Baseball: Owners, players agree
By Ronald Blum
NEW YORK ó Baseball players and owners toughened their drug rules again Friday in response to outside criticism, agreeing to more frequent testing and increased ó but not total ó authority for the program’s outside administrator.
All players implicated in December’s Mitchell Report on performance-enhancing drugs were given amnesty as part of the agreement, the third major modification since the program was instituted in 2002 following accusations players were abusing steroids.
“It is time for the game to move forward,” commissioner Bud Selig said. “There is little to be gained at this point in debating dated misconduct and enduring numerous disciplinary proceedings.”
Thus, the deal eliminated 15-day suspensions assessed against Jose Guillen and Jay Gibbons.
Friday’s agreement also ensures there will never be another Mitchell Report, as both sides agreed to keep players’ names private until discipline is imposed in any future probe. The sides also agreed a player would be given any allegations and evidence against him before any investigatory interview.
Many players, including seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, complained Mitchell never disclosed the case against them until the report was released.
Talks to amend the drug agreement were prompted by the Mitchell Report’s scandalous allegations, including those by Brian McNamee, the former personal trainer who testified under oath that he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone.
Mitchell made many recommendations that Major League Baseball adopted unilaterally, and Friday’s agreement covered the changes subject to collecting bargaining. In the deal, baseball will impose certification standards for strength and conditioning coaches starting next year.
Baseball, however, did not heed advice from the World Anti-Doping Agency to turn over testing to an outside agency.
Instead, the Independent Program Administrator, a position created in November 2005, will be given an initial three-year term and can be removed only if an arbitrator finds cause. Until now, he could be fired at any time by either side.