From the Associated Press:
A formal announcement was planned for later today, a baseball official told the AP. Under the agreement, a player testing positive for the first time would receive a 50-game suspension. The second positive test would bring a 100-game suspension. The third positive test would bring a lifetime ban, with the player having the right to apply for reinstatement after two years and an arbitrator being able to review reinstatement decision.
Baseball's current steroid penalties are a 10-day suspension for a first offense, 30 days for a second offense, and 60 days for a third. The earliest a player could be banned for life is a fifth offense. The sport's second new steroids agreement in 10 months came after lengthy negotiations prompted by urging from Congress -- including the threat of legislation that would require higher penalties and stricter testing standards. Representatives of the owners and players were on Capitol Hill today to meet with House Government Reform Committee Chairman Tom Davis, R-Va.
He's one of a handful of lawmakers who have introduced steroids bills -- and it was his panel that held the March 17 hearing with Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco. At that hearing, Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig and union head Donald Fehr were scolded for what congressmen called a weak penalty system for drug testing.
Credit for this legitimate steroid policy finally being enacted, a policy that finally gets tough with players using illegal and life-threatening substances should go to 3 people: 1) Senator John McCain, who's been threatening baseball with steroid legislation for awhile now; 2) Commissioner Bud Selig, who's been wanting a tougher steroid policy forever, but has had to fight with the Players Association for years now to get them to step up and 3) former major leaguer Jose Canseco, whose controversial book "Juiced" shamed baseball to the point of national ridicule and worldwide embarassment.
With this new policy in effect, baseball is finally letting all the cheaters know that the sport isn't going to be taken advantage of anymore. By taking away the one thing, money, that means the most to professional athletes, baseball is taking on a stance that's long been needed. For Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Pudge Rodriquez and all the other cheaters who have gotten away with abusing the game, this new policy will keep them and future wannabe cheaters out, while restoring some integrity to the game I love.