Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association have negotiated changes to its current Joint Drug Treatment and Prevention Program to create the most stringent drug program in baseball history.

In an effort to eradicate performance enhancing drugs from the game, the revised drug protocol contains a significant increase in penalties for violations of the Joint Drug Program and changes in the number and type of tests that will be administered to major league players.

The increased penalties for violations of the drug agreement are as follows:

1st Violation-increased from a 50 game suspension to an 80 game suspension

2nd Violation-increased from a 100 game suspension to a 162 game suspension

3rd Violation-the penalty remains a permanent suspension

The increase in the penalties marks the first significant change to the Joint Drug Program’s penalty provisions since 2006. At that time, disciplinary suspensions for a positive drug test were increased to 50 games from the  baseline suspension of 10 games that was originally introduced in 2004.

In addition, the parties have added a provision which prohibits a player who has tested positive for use of a performance enhancing drug from participating in the postseason during the season the player was suspended, even if the suspension has been served in its entirety.

Players who are suspended will also be ineligible for automatic postseason money shares guaranteed to players through the collective bargaining agreement, unless their teammates elect to include them in the distribution of shares.

Commenting on the postseason ban, Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark stated that the union membership wanted to make sure “a player is not coming back and effecting a change in the postseason as a result of the decision that particular player made earlier in the year.”

The amendments to the Joint Drug Program also raise markedly the number of in-season random urine tests. The number of permitted tests has been more than doubled from 1400 to 3200. These additional 1800 random tests during the season are in addition to the minimum two tests that each player already receives during each season.

In an effort to eliminate off-season performance enhancing drug use Major League Baseball and the  union have increased the number of offseason tests from a total of 250 to 350. The amendments reached by the parties also introduce 400 random blood collections that will be used to detect human growth hormone. These tests will be used in addition to the one mandatory blood collection that is already taken from each player during spring training.

Assessing the overall changes to the Joint Drug Program, Executive Director Clark concluded, Make no mistake, this agreement underscores the undisputed reality that the players put forward many of the most significant changes reached in these negotiations because they (the players) want a fair and clean game.”

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Photo of Gregg E. Clifton Gregg E. Clifton

Gregg E. Clifton is a Principal in the Phoenix, Arizona, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is Co-Leader of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group and serves as the editor of the firm’s sports law blog.

Mr. Clifton has extensive experience in…

Gregg E. Clifton is a Principal in the Phoenix, Arizona, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is Co-Leader of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group and serves as the editor of the firm’s sports law blog.

Mr. Clifton has extensive experience in the collegiate and professional sports world. He has advised numerous professional franchises on general labor and employment issues, including Title III ADA regulatory compliance and wage and hour issues. He serves as lead counsel for several Major League Baseball teams in their salary arbitration matters and has represented NCAA and NAIA collegiate clients regarding rules compliance, investigatory matters and in disciplinary hearings. In addition, he has handled Title IX investigations and compliance issues for NCAA and NAIA member institutions. Mr. Clifton has also worked extensively in the area of agent regulation and enforcement in professional and college sports and regularly provides counsel on issues relating to NCAA and NAIA amateurism issues and athlete eligibility questions. He has also served as an expert witness in matters involving sports agents’ work and responsibilities, as well as athlete compensation issues.

Prior to joining Jackson Lewis, he spent six years as Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Team Sports for Gaylord Sports Management. He also served as President of the Athlete and Entertainment Division for famed sports attorney Bob Woolf’s firm, Woolf Associates, in Boston.

Mr. Clifton began his career as an Associate at Jackson Lewis where he focused his practice on traditional labor law. He continues to counsel clients in the areas of collective bargaining negotiations, representation cases, arbitrations and National Labor Relations Board matters.

Mr. Clifton frequently serves as an expert speaker to law schools, including Harvard University, Boston College, Hofstra University and Arizona State University, and bar associations regarding sports law issues, including agent regulation and salary arbitration. He is also often cited as an expert source in national news media for his commentary and opinion on legal issues in sports.