Saying it wanted to restore confidence in the game, baseball rolled out a tougher steroid-testing program Thursday that includes penalties for first-time offenders and random, year-round checks.
"I've been saying for some time my goal for this industry is zero tolerance toward steroids," baseball commissioner Bud Selig said.
A first positive test would result in a suspension of up to 10 days, a second positive test a 30-day ban, a third positive a 60-day penalty, and a fourth positive test a one-year ban.
Under the previous agreement, a first positive test resulted only in treatment, and a second positive test was subject to a 15-day suspension. Only with a fifth positive test was a player subject to a one-year ban under the old plan.
Since the old agreement was reached in 2002, the sport has come under increased scrutiny about steroids. Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield testified before a federal grand jury investigating a California lab, and President Bush brought up the steroids issue in a State of the Union address.
"We're acting today to help restore the confidence of our fans," Selig said.
In addition to the one mandatory test of each player each season, players will randomly be selected for additional tests, with no maximum number of checks. In addition, players will randomly be selected for testing during the offseason.
This new agreement runs until Decemeber 2008.
"I will be surprised if over time this doesn't take care of the problem virtually completely," union head Donald Fehr said.
Human Growth Hormone was added to the list of banned substances; amphetamines were not.
"We had a problem and we dealt with the problem," Selig said. "I regarded this as not only a health issue, but certainly you could say it was an integrity issue in this sport."
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