New season brings tougher steroid testing

Agreement should be ready by reporting date of March 1

Spring Training

February 19, 2005|By ROCH KUBATKO

With spring training camps opening in Florida and Arizona under clear blue skies, Major League Baseball is attempting to lift the cloud of suspicion over steroid abuse among its players.

Last month, MLB officials introduced a tougher steroid-testing program that will remain in place until 2008.

Under the agreement, violators will be suspended without pay for 10 days for a first violation, 30 days for a second, 60 days for a third and one year for a fourth.

Every player will undergo at least one test during the season, and computers will draw names randomly to be checked at a later date. And a significant number of players also will be tested during the offseason.

Rob Manfred, executive vice president for labor relations in the commissioner's office, believes the agreement will be ready by the mandatory reporting date of March 1.

The players union resisted steroid testing until 2003, when random tests that season showed 5 to 7 percent of the sport's athletes used the illegal drugs. The union and league agreed to broader testing this winter.

- Roch Kubatko

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