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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Correction: Baseball's most current drug testing penalties

Recently in a post about Barry Bonds quest to break the home run record, we listed the schedule of penalties for baseball's drug testing policy. However, it has been brought to our attention that Major League Baseball (MLB) has since strengthened their drug-testing policy. The penalty schedule we published was introduced for the 2005 season. The current schedule below was ratified in November 2005 for the 2006 MLB season, and now been look like this:
  1. First positive test result: 50 game suspension
  2. Second positive test result: 100 game suspension
  3. Third positive test result: lifetime ban

Note: All suspensions are without pay.

This updated policy has some teeth, as a 50-game suspension is equivalent to approximately 1/3 of the season. Although it is encouraging that they appear to have adopted a "three strikes and your out" approach, this policy is still weak when compared to international sports sanctioned by the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA), which mandates a two-year ban for the first offense and a lifetime ban for any subsequent offense.

It is our hope that when the policy is next updated, it will fall in line with the more stringent international standards, because a tougher policy will only serve to legitimize baseball and elevate its integrity.

See also:

Time line of drug testing in baseball from mlb.com

Meanwhile, on Friday night (3 Aug), Bonds hit a home run in San Diego to tie Hank Aaron's record at 755 home runs. Reactions were mixed as one fan threw a ball back onto the field, although it was not the home run ball, and others booed him and held up asterisks signs when he took up his left-field position. Bonds did receive a standing ovation from Giant's fans when he left the game in the eighth inning, though.

Fortunately Bonds' reign at the top of the home run ladder will likely be short lived. Earlier on Friday, Alex Rodriguez (NY Yankees) hit his 500th home run at the age of 32, which puts him far ahead of Bonds at the same age. If A-Rod can stay healthy he could become the new home run king in as little as five years. This would relieve many baseball fans as public opinion of Bonds is low, although it is likely that he will be inducted into the Hall of Fame with little resistance when his time comes.

Like him or not, Bonds is a natural and exhibited immense talent and promise right from the start of his career. We welcome your comments on the Bonds issue here at the Science of Sport, so please weigh in with your opinion on this debate!

Ross and Jonathan