A report annually required from the independent administrator who oversees Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Program revealed on Wednesday that of 3,714 drug tests administered to Major Leaguers this past year, only 17 came back positive, requiring discipline. Two were for the use of performance-enhancing drugs and resulted in 50-game suspensions to Reds pitcher Edinson Volquez and Marlins catcher Ronny Paulino. The other 15 were for the use of stimulants and the names were not released under the privacy provisions of the agreement between MLB and the Players Association. The annual survey, which was dispatched for the third time, was one of the recommendations made by Sen. George Mitchell in his 2007 report to give more transparency to the system of checks and balances regarding baseball's ongoing testing of players. Dr. Bryan W. Smith, who is in charge of administering the program, is required to submit the report and remain completely independent of MLB and the union.
Since MLB began disciplining players in 2005, 27 have been suspended. The high was 12 in 2005 with the accruing decrease, reflecting well on the veracity of the program. Last year, only one 40-man roster player was suspended for a positive drug test: Kelvin Pilchard of the Giants. Manny Ramirez of the Dodgers was also suspended for 50 games, but because of non-analytical positive. Sergio Mitre of the Yankees and J.C. Romero of the Phillies both served suspensions in 2009, but their positive tests occurred during the '08 season and we're included in that year's independent report. In the current one-page report, Smith noted that the two players suspended this year were done so because of the ingestion of the anabolic steroids Clomiphene and Oxandrolone. The stimulants that contributed to positive results were Adderall (13 times), and Clobenzorex and Phentermine. Adderall is an amphetamine that is used at times to control Attention Deficit Disorder. But a player must have a prescription from a physician to legally use the drug. Smith noted that 10 therapeutic use exemptions were granted, 105 for ADD, two for hypertension and one each for hypogonadism, narcolepsy and post-concussion syndrome. Under the terms of the drug agreement, which has been opened and re-negotiated several times since its implementation in 2003, a player is not suspended for the first time use of a stimulant. Instead, he goes into an administrative tract and his name is kept private. Upon a second positive test, he's suspended for 25 games and the information is released. As far as PEDs are concerned, a player is suspended 50 games for the first positive test, 100 for the second, and after a third is banned for life with the possibility of reinstatement a year later.
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.