MLB should pose stricter PED limit

Published 12:01 am Sunday, August 4, 2013

Come Monday, we should know something about the fates of those Major League Baseball players connected to the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic.

The most notable of these names are Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun and Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

Braun has already been hit with a 65-game suspension, and Rodriguez is expected to receive a much harsher penalty — the possibility of a lifetime ban from baseball has been thrown around, on the “best interest of baseball” grounds.

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Allegations of Biogenesis supplying players with performance-enhancing drugs has caused MLB to pursue punishments against those connected to the clinic. In Rodriguez’s case, reports say the league believes he not only lied about PED usage, but he also tried to impede MLB’s investigation and even recruit athletes to take advantage of Biogenesis’ services.

The idea that MLB players are still using PEDs may come as a shock to those who have had their heads in the sand, who actually believed the “steroid era” in baseball is over. For the rest of us, it’s an unsurprising, but still disappointing reality.

The truth is, drug companies will probably always be one step ahead of drug testing in being able to supply athletes with PEDs that go undetected. But that shouldn’t deter the league from trying.

But if any meaningful change is going to take place, the ante must be upped. Three-strikes-and-your-out may be an integral part of baseball, but in the case of PEDs, there should be a two-strike limit.

Presently, a first-time positive test nets a 50-game suspension. A second-time test nets a 100-game suspension, and a third-time test nets a lifetime ban. In the case of Braun, 15 games were added because of conduct deemed detrimental to baseball over comments he made regarding an MLB drug tester after he allegedly tested positive in 2011. (After winning an appeal, he wasn’t suspended because it was determined the drug tester didn’t follow protocol.)

That’s not a good enough deterrent. While some players will see how much they can get away with no matter what, making the consequences much more devastating can hopefully scare at least some of the cheaters into complying.

Strike one should be a yearlong ban and a voiding of whatever contract the player is under. Strike two should be a lifetime ban.

Running that by the MLB Player’s Union will no doubt generate a discussion on what kinds of positive tests should warrant those kinds of punishments.

If someone accidently takes the wrong supplement, should that viewed on the same level as testing positive for human-growth hormone?

Ultimately, that is where MLB is going to have to acquiesce if this is going to work. You can probably convince enough players to buy into harsher penalties. Some might argue that punishments based on what kind of positive test open the door for players to get off on technicalities.

On the other hand, you could argue that certain supplements shouldn’t warrant a lifetime ban compared to certain drugs.

If MLB wants a cleaner product, the means of cleaning that product must get a jolt in power.