MLB: Closer to Zero Tolerance, but Still Not Quite There

By November 17, 2005General

Yesterday’s papers reported that Major League Baseball and the players union have reached agreement on a new illegal drug use policy. Under the old policy, even baseball didn’t use their own “three strikes and you’re out” standard. There were plenty of strikes, plenty of tolerance. The new policy is admittedly tougher, but it was a low bar. It was impossible to get softer without resorting to actual wrist slapping, standing in the corner or mandating a “time out” chair in the clubhouse.

So the new policy looks like this: first offense of steroids gets you suspended for 50 games, the second offense gets you suspended for 100 games. The third strike? You’re out. However, for amphetamines, the first offense gets you “evaluation and follow-up testing”, the second wins a 25 game suspension, the third an 80-game suspension and the fourth could earn you “up to” a lifetime ban.

Again, this is an improvement over the old system — which needed improvement. But we want to make the point here that we’ve made before: Manufacturers who have a “zero tolerance” policy for drug use mean that there is, well, zero tolerance. That is to say there is no tolerance. What MLB and the players union have done is to respond to the outrage expressed by fans and the general public and to the public blow to the image of the sport. It’s a step in the right direction, but they still have far to go to get to zero.