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MLB applauds new steroid act
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10/22/2004 8:56 PM ET
MLB applauds new steroid act
Allows baseball to strengthen its own standards
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Representatives for the owners and the union had negotiated earlier in the season to try and strengthen MLB's current drug program. The new law does that without changing the program. (Gregory Bull/AP)
President Bush signed into law on Friday the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004, which the U.S. Congress ratified earlier this month, giving Major League Baseball the ability to strengthen its Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program without any enhancements or changes to the program.

The bill, ratified Oct. 11, adds steroid precursors and substances such as androstenedione, 19-norandrosterone and other steroid precursors to the list of anabolic steroids that are classified as Schedule III controlled substances, which are banned from over-the-counter sales without a prescription.

In the drug program adopted by MLB and the Players Association, which is part of the current Basic Agreement, all players on the 40-man roster of each Major League team are subject to testing once each season for every banned Schedule III substance. There is a provision in the current agreement to add any steroids-based drug banned by the U.S. government to the testing list. Twenty-eight drugs were previously on the list.

"Major League Baseball is extremely grateful to President Bush for his vision and leadership on this very important issue. The Anabolic Steroid Control Act will be instrumental in helping us reach our goal of zero tolerance," Commissioner Bud Selig said.

"We will now be allowed to test for steroid precursors just as we are currently testing for steroids as part of our regular testing. While we have made some progress in this area, our top priority is to implement a tougher and more effective drug-testing program. We are working with the Major League Baseball Players Association to get that done and I am very confident we will do so."

Representatives for the owners and the union had been negotiating earlier in the season to try and strengthen MLB's current drug program, which was adopted in 2002 and put into place a year later. Survey testing in 2003 revealed steroids use by five to seven percent of MLB players, kicking in the punitive portion of the program this season.

All players are tested randomly once each season in two parts over a five-to-seven day period beginning with the start of Spring Training. Offseason testing is not part of the program. A first positive test for a player leads to treatment and a second brings a fine or suspension, plus the public revelation of the player's name. Thus far, there have been no such proclamations.

The current testing program remains in force until less the 2.5 percent of the players test positive in two consecutive seasons combined. The current Basic Agreement expires on Dec. 19, 2006, and the drug treatment program must be renegotiated along with it.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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