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Joint Drug Agreement addresses Mitchell recommendations
04/11/2008 2:13 PM ET
The new Joint Drug Agreement announced today by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Player Association fortified the MLB drug testing program, whose penalties Senator George M. Mitchell called "the strongest in major U.S. professional sports leagues."

As part of the agreement with the Players Association, Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig said that players, including players named in the Mitchell Report, will participate in community service activities designed to educate youth and their parents regarding the dangers of performance-enhancing substances. Also, the Players Association, on behalf of players, will make a $200,000 contribution to an anti-drug charitable or research organization.

The Commissioner also indicated that any fines imposed on management personnel for conduct described in the Mitchell Report will be donated to the Partnership of a Drug Free America (PDFA) and the Taylor Hooton Foundation. MLB will continue its long-time relationships with both the PDFA and the Hooton Foundation and help fund their anti-drug educational programs. Major League Baseball also announced earlier this year it had committed $3 million to the formation of the Partnership for Clean Competition, antidrug research collaboration with The United States Olympic Committee (USOC), the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), and the National Football League (NFL).

The changes announced today address Mitchell's recommendations as follows:

1. Increased Independence - the Independent Program Administrator ("IPA") is appointed for a multiyear term and can be removed only in very narrow circumstances.

2. Increased Transparency - the IPA will annually and publicly report key statistics related to the program and record retention requirements will be lengthened.

3. Testing - 600 additional tests will be conducted each year and the number of off-season tests will double on average.

4. Flexibility - the agreement institutionalizes an annual review process to allow the parties to respond to new developments.

5. Education - the IPA, in consultation with the parties, will develop an annual mandatory education program for players.

6. Amateur Draft - Baseball's testing program will be expanded to cover top prospects.

"Baseball already has the toughest penalties in professional sports and our testing program will now be more rigorous and independent than ever - with additional in-season and off-season tests," said Commissioner Selig. "I will continue to take every step necessary to protect the integrity of this game.

Senator Mitchell made sound recommendations for improvements to our Joint Drug Agreement and I am gratified that the Players Association once again proved willing to work with us to improve the program."

On the issue of player discipline, the Commissioner determined that the sport would be better served with efforts focused on community service and educational programs.

Commissioner Selig said, "It is time for the game to move forward. There is little to be gained at this point in debating dated misconduct and enduring numerous disciplinary proceedings. Educating children and their parents about the dangers of performance-enhancing substances is a much more productive endeavor.

We welcome the efforts of the players and the Players Association - through the players' community service and the Players' Association's financial commitment - to join us in this educational process as part of our social responsibility. It is important that players become more involved in spreading the anti-drug message to the youth of America."

The new Joint Drug Agreement demonstrates baseball's resolve to do everything within its power to rid the sport of performance-enhancing substances. As a result of prior actions, steroid use in Baseball dropped sharply with only three players testing positive in 2007 and two in 2006.

The Commissioner's decision covers Jose Guillen of the Kansas City Royals and Jay Gibbons for whom discipline was previously announced. The Commissioner noted, however, that he reserved the right to discipline for conduct related to the sale or distribution of banned substances or criminal convictions unrelated to the use of drugs. "A criminal conviction for perjury, obstruction of justice or similar matters is a serious offense, and will be dealt with accordingly," Selig said.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.