Baseball and Drug Testing

Drug abuse is a common problem not only facing the baseball but the entire field of sport, in fact, virtually in all sports there has been dismissal of players due to abuse of drugs and other substances, which make players more energetic, thus making them to have undue advantage over their competitors.

In some sports such an offence carry’s heavy penalties with the player getting barred from participating in the sport and in some cases the player might even be imprisoned especially if the drug that is tested positive is considered illegal in the country.

The major baseball leagues have joined efforts in order to deal with the problem of drug abuse associated with the game. They conduct a program aimed at drug prevention and treatment. This program was initiated by the association of players in collaboration with the baseball commissioner so as to prevent and bring to an end the use of illegal substances by the baseball players.

It had been noticed that the baseball players have been using substances such as anabolic steroids and other illegal in order to improve their performance. By the mere fact that the tests are not conducted by an independent body makes the whole exercise look incomplete as it gives room for compromised results. This to a great extent fails to deal effectively with the problem (Rosenthal, 2005).

The players are forbidden from possessing, using, selling, and aiding in the sale and distribution of steroids or any other drug that is illegal. The testing is usually administered through the use of a scientifically validated test of urine. The players are randomly picked and a test performed. The commissioner’s office has the right to perform additional tests for steroid at any time and without notifying the players.

The players are not involved in the determination of how many tests can be performed during the season or even the schedule and timing of such tests, but this is the duty of the body appointed by the office of the commissioner. However, the testing of other drugs is not randomly performed but only conducted when it is reasonable to do so. This is mainly done when one of the board members has facts to proof that a player has dealt or used drugs within a period of at least twelve months.

Upon such arousal, the board convenes a meeting to discuss the issue and if most of the members are for the opinion that the test should be done then the testing will be conducted within forty eight hours after the resolution. The use of urine samples when conducting the tests completely fails to address solve the problem as some of the drugs used by the baseball players can only be detected through blood tests. Thus many players are tested negative even though they have used various drugs. This makes the exercise fail in meeting the ethical standards (Antonen, 2005).

The tests conducted are considered positive if the substance is found in larger quantities than those acceptable by the board, or if the player tries to alter the results or fails to cooperate with the board during testing. When tested positive, both the club and player are immediately notified. The player is then placed on either an outpatient or inpatient program for treatment.

He also has his salary retained for a period of thirty to sixty days and such a player is also excluded from the club activities. The players on the program are then evaluated by the board in order to establish whether they are on the right track to recovery or not.  Information concerning those players who have been tested positive is not disclosed to the public.

Failure to comply with the treatment program, a player can either be suspended or a fine can be imposed on him. The suspension period can be as short as fifteen days and can go up to seventy five days, while the fines can range from a low of ten thousand dollars up to a high of a hundred thousand dollars. The amount of discipline is always determined by the commissioner’s office and its action must be consistent with the progressive discipline concept. During the suspension the player is not paid.

For the players who are tested positive for use or dealing with the other prohibited drugs and substances, the first offence carries a suspension of fifteen to thirty days or a fine of ten thousand dollars, the second time the offence is committed it attracts a suspension of a minimum of thirty days and a maximum of ninety days or a fine of fifty thousand dollars.

The third time a player is tested positive, he can be suspended for one year or fined one hundred dollars while the fourth time the player is suspended for two years without the option of a fine and any more offences committed, then the progressive discipline concept is applied consistently. This is completely unethical as drugs should not be tolerated at all not even in base ball. It is immoral to deal with players so leniently on such serious offence (Rosenthal, 2005).

Baseball involves a lot of money which can enable the players obtain the steroids available in the market thus a policy of zero tolerance on steroids should be put in place with very stiff penalties that would deter the players from contemplating the use of such drugs. This would greatly restore the integrity of the game. This has clearly not been achieved by the new policy which is very lenient on the offenders (Antonen, 2005).

Although the new policy attempts to solve the problem of use of steroids among the baseball players, it fails in many aspects to meet the objectives for which it was set. The new policy on steroid testing in major baseball leagues is therefore not morally justified since the issue of drug abuse is not firmly dealt with. It also leaves major loopholes which players can use to escape the system. As discussed above, players are given a number of chances to commit the offence and might even fail to be caught since the testing is random (Houston Chronicle, 2005).

Drug abuse is a serious crime not only in the world but in any other field; it is responsible for a series of many social ills within the society. It should therefore, be dealt with as a serious crime. The policy on steroids falls short of many stakeholders expectations. It is seen not morally justified as it gives the offenders a chance to commit the crime for a number of times. The disciplinary action taken against such players is not enough to deter them or other players to involve themselves in drugs in future.


Antonen, M (2005). Baseball Fans Say MLB’s Steroid Policy Falls Short; USA TODAY, McLean, Va.

Rosenthal, K (2005). New Testing Policy Won’t Be A Panacea. The Sporting News. St. Louis:  Vol. 229, Iss. 4; pg. 49,

Houston Chronicle (2005). Too Tolerant / Baseball’s New Drug-Testing Policy Is A Step Toward Ferreting Out Its Cheaters, But The League Must Go Further To Restore Integrity To The Game. Houston, Tex.