The head of the Major League Baseball Players Association called increased penalties for the use of banned substances "a 2014 issue" on Sunday, a day after Commissioner Bud Selig voiced his support for a quick resolution.
Michael Weiner seemed to close the door on pushing through any changes this season in comments he made after visiting the Orioles in Sarasota, Fla., as part of his tour of all 30 spring camps.
"Starting this offseason, we had substantial discussion among player leadership about whether the penalty structure we have is right -- whether there should be increases -- whether there should be a differential penalty for intentional or unintentional users," Weiner said, according to The Associated Press.
"That dialogue is continuing. We had some dialogue even with the Commissioner's Office in the offseason that didn't lead to any changes, and I suspect that we'll have those discussions over the course of the year. But it's going to be a 2014 issue. We're not going to change the rules of the game in the middle of the season. In a sense, the drug-testing season started with Spring Training."
The current Basic Agreement between Major League Baseball and the Players Association, which runs through 2016, lays out three levels of punishment for players who test positive for a banned substance. A first offense calls for a 50-game suspension, a second offense requires a 100-game suspension and a third offense brings about a lifetime ban.
Although that policy makes MLB's the toughest program among the major U.S. sports, Selig expressed a desire to tighten it further. Speaking in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Saturday, he said he asked Rob Manfred, MLB's executive vice president of labor relations, to sit down with Weiner to negotiate harsher penalties, with an eye toward reaching an agreement for 2013.
"As soon as possible; I really feel very strongly about it," Selig said. "This is not something we ought to wait around on. This is something we should do quickly, expeditiously."
The issue has gained steam recently in the wake of reports linking several big league players to performance-enhancing drugs allegedly procured through the Miami-based Biogenesis of America clinic. Several other players have responded by speaking out in favor of increased suspensions, something Selig would approve.
"If people want to continue to do what they shouldn't do, then the one thing that you have to do is you have to have stricter penalties," Selig said. "It's as simple as that."
Weiner, on the other hand, has stated his belief that a different approach might prove more effective. In comments he made at Blue Jays camp in Dunedin, Fla., last Tuesday, Weiner said that increasing the likelihood of being caught could be the more successful change.
"There is a reasonable debate you could have in this context and the criminal justice context as to whether increasing the likelihood of detection is the way to deter -- or increasing the penalty," Weiner said. "There is a lot of serious study that says it doesn't matter what the penalty is, it depends upon if you think you're going to get caught."
Andrew Simon is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less