Steroid ban, baseball dreams

Major League Baseball is done taking baby steps.

After instilling a wimpy steroid policy prior to the 2005 season, MLB drew some well-deserved criticism for not being tough enough on steroid users. A 10-day suspension for a first-time offender? Come on. That was barely more than a slap on the wrist.

To improve on the policy, MLB owners unanimously approved a new steroid policy Nov. 17 that carries much more severe and appropriate punishments for steroid use.

The players’ association executive board still has to give its OK, but that’s “considered a formality,” according to an article from The Associated Press.

MLB commissioner Bud Selig should be commended for making the new policy a virtual reality. The old policy was at least a step in the right direction but it was woefully inadequate.

Under the new policy, a first-time offender would be suspended 50 games. A second positive test would result in a 100-game suspension and if a player is busted three times, he would be banned from baseball for life.

The penalties under the policy created before last season were a 30-day suspension for a second offense and a 60-day suspension for a third offense. Thankfully, it looks like those standards will last only one season.

MLB also deserves a shout-out for including amphetamines in the new proposed policy. Under the new policy, testing positive for the first time for amphetamines would result in mandatory additional testing.

A second positive test would carry a 25-game suspension and a third positive test an 80-game suspension. For too long amphetamine use has been the elephant in the corner no one in MLB talked about or addressed.

BALCO founder Victor Conte estimated during a “20/20” interview that 80 percent of MLB players take amphetamines before games.

Yes, the baseball season is long (162 games) and forces players to never be in one place for more than two weeks or so, but that is no excuse to use amphetamines.

Players should not be taking illegal substances to get up for games. Players should gain more mental strength instead of turning to amphetamines to get through the season.

So, assuming the players’ association executive board approves the proposed policy, MLB has gone a long way toward removing pollutants from its game.

We hope we see the day when not one player is busted for steroid or amphetamine use. That’s the way baseball should be played – fair and clean.

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