Selig outlines drug-testing goals

Selig outlines drug-testing goals

Dear Fans of Major League Baseball,

On Wednesday, May 18, 2005 I will appear before the Subcommittee on Commerce Trade and Consumer Protection of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce to offer testimony concerning the Drug Free Sports Act, which has been introduced by Congressman Cliff Stearns. This bill creates minimum drug testing standards for professional sports. I want to be clear concerning the position of Major League Baseball on this important issue. The eradication of performance-enhancing substances from all of professional baseball is my top priority. This priority is and always has been shared by the owners of all 30 Major League Clubs. They have reiterated their long-standing determination to rid our game of these substances by a unanimous resolution passed during our recent MLB owners' meetings in New York.

We have been fighting the use of these drugs in the Major Leagues and the Minor Leagues for a long time and in 2002 were successful for the first time in reaching agreement with the Major League Baseball Players Association on a testing program. Our program was strengthened in January, 2005. I believe then, and I believe now, that the improvements we made were a strong step forward in achieving our goal. However, it is clear to me that you and your elected representatives in Congress expect more in order to restore faith in the integrity of our rules and the performance of our players.

Therefore, I will amend Major League Baseball's Minor League drug policy, effective for the 2006 season. First-time offenders will be suspended for 50 games. Second-time offenders will be suspended for 100 games and third-time offenders will be permanently banned from Major League Baseball and all Minor League Clubs who are affiliated with Major League Baseball.

Testing for performance-enhancing drug use in the Major Leagues, and the resulting penalties, is a topic we believe we are required to discuss and negotiate with the players' union before any further action can be taken. We have been encouraged by the MLBPA's sensitivity to this issue as reflected in the positive changes made to our program last January. I am certain that this sensitivity reflects the near-unanimous concern which has recently been publicly expressed on this issue by our clubs' players, who make up the membership of the MLBPA. I have invited the MLBPA's Executive Director to consider the following changes to the Major League Drug Policy:

1. I believe that the discipline for the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the Major Leagues should be exactly what I have determined will be applicable to players in the Minor Leagues in 2006: 50 games, 100 games and a permanent ban.
2. I believe amphetamines should be banned under our program and considered performance-enhancing substances for the purpose of penalties.
3. I believe we should increase the frequency of testing, and ...
4. I believe we should agree on a single, independent administrator who is responsible for all aspects of the program.

It is clear to me that we must act quickly because the existence of these substances provides cause to question the integrity of each and every player, creates an uneven playing field to the advantage of those who elect to cheat and raises important health concerns. Most importantly, the use of these substances by any player in our game has the potential to influence young people in a disastrous direction.

Finally, I believe that expeditious, effective changes in our agreement, whose elements are consistent with the goals I have outlined above, is a course of action far preferable to federal legislation on this issue. However, in the event that we are unable to achieve agreement with the MLBPA on this matter and I am left with no reasonable alternative to address this critical issue, I will support federal legislation, as it has been introduced by Congressman Stearns. I am convinced that he and his committee chairman, Congressman Joe Barton, share my goal of eliminating illegal performance-enhancing drugs from Major League Baseball.

Since I will be speaking publicly on this matter this week and there is likely to be a considerable amount of media coverage and opinion expressed, I thought it was important to let you know where I, as the Commissioner, stand on this issue.

Very truly yours,
Allan H. Selig