D-backs applaud increased PED penalties, testing
PHOENIX — Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association on Friday announced increased testing and stiffer penalties for performance-enhancing drug violations, and the Diamondbacks were happy to see the changes that will apply to the 2014 season.
"We’re excited," said D-backs reliever Brad Ziegler, a volunteer member of the MLBPA executive subcommittee. "The goal is a clean game and I think many of the things we got done, a lot of them were player-driven. I think that shows how much the players want the game clean."
Under the new regulations, a player who tests positive for PEDs will be ineligible for the postseason. Additionally, the penalty for a first positive test will increase from 50 games to 80 while a second violation will carry a 162-game suspension and a third violation will result in a lifetime ban.
Additionally — and more importantly in Ziegler’s opinion — in-season random urine tests will more than double from 1,400 to 3,200 on top of the minimum of two for each player and offseason tests will increase from 250 to 350 total.
There also will be 400 random blood collections to test for human growth hormone. Players were previously tested once per season during spring training.
"There’s no question for us the bigger deal is the increased testing and the quality of the testing, the randomness of it," Ziegler said. "You’ve got to put things in place better to get them caught. That’s the thing: People do it when they think they can get away with it. We have to try to put the circumstances in there that let them know that there’s a better likelihood of getting caught if they try it."
Also more important than the increased penalties, Ziegler said, was the postseason ban, which assures players in more meaningful games their opponents are clean. Last season, Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta and Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz both played in the playoffs after in-season PED suspensions.
D-backs manager Kirk Gibson long has been an outspoken advocate for tougher penalties and was naturally pleased with the changes, though he hadn’t yet seen all the details Friday afternoon.
"I was one of the first guys to speak out on stricter penalties," Gibson said. "It’s encouraging to see the commissioner’s office and the player’s association are working together on this, and we all know what the purpose of it is."
Ziegler and Gibson agreed the player-driven nature of the changes sends a message that PED use is limited to a small minority of players in the game and that most players are committed to maintaining a clean image.
"We know that the majority of guys are not using right now," Ziegler said. "I think with the example of those guys who were caught, the way that they’re looked at, it’s not appealing. A lot of guys don’t want to deal with that."