Congressman Elijah E. Cummings Comments on Major League Baseball's New Steroid Policy
Washington, D.C. -- Today, U.S. Representative Elijah E. Cummings (MD-07), Member of the House Government Reform Committee, and the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources, released the following statement regarding Major League Baseball's (MLB) decision to strengthen its steroid drug policy.
Officials from MLB announced that players who fail steroid drug tests no longer will have the option of being fined instead of suspended. Baseball executives and the players' union have agreed to eliminate from the policy a provision that would allow fines that ranged from up to $10,000 for a first failed drug test to up to $100,000 after the fourth infraction.
Players who fail a drug test will face a 10-day suspension for the first offense, a 30-day suspension for the second offense, a 60-day suspension for the third offense and a one-year suspension after the fourth offense.
Congressman Cummings said, "I commend Major League Baseball for eliminating the option of being fined as a penalty for players who fail steroid drug tests. This action, although long overdue, is a positive result from last week's congressional hearing by the Government Reform Committee on steroid use in baseball. This important hearing shed light on the pervasive problem of the abuse of anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing drugs. It also enforced the need for MLB to develop a comprehensive, strict, independent and transparent drug policy.
"This means that individuals who fail steroid drug tests will no longer be able to hide behind their enormous salaries by paying a paltry fine that goes unnoticed by the general public. Now, when a player is caught cheating, the punishment will be visible.
"I hope that this is just the first of many changes to come. For instance, during the Government Reform hearing, I questioned Dr. Elliot Pellman, Medical Advisor to the Commissioner of Baseball, about the dubious testing procedure in place. Under the existing baseball steroid testing policy, a player that cannot provide an adequate testing sample may leave the testing facility for up to an hour and have the initial sample discarded. This extended break could provide an opportunity for a player to cheat or develop an excuse in order to postpone testing altogether. Dr. Pellman agreed with me that the ability for a player to leave the testing area while the test is being conducted jeopardizes the integrity of the test.
"Commissioner Bud Selig must act with the same swiftness in addressing the actual drug testing as he has done in removing from the drug policy a provision that would allow fines.
"However, there must be more than just policy changes before the cloud of deceit is removed from baseball.
"Several major league players, both past and present, testified that they would use their celebrity status to warn children about the dangers of anabolic steroids. I look forward to seeing their efforts unfold in a positive way so that young people no longer feel compelled to harm their bodies by using performance-enhancing drugs in order to be competitive in sports. I urge every Major League Baseball player to show the same commitment to our children through public service announcements and other anti-drug initiatives.
"The new policy concerning fines must still be ratified by MLB and the players union. I will do everything within my power to work with my colleagues on the Government Reform Committee to make sure that these stakeholders keep their promises by upholding this recently negotiated change to their policy.
"My vision is that baseball fields across the country will be known as drug-free zones where families can bring their children to enjoy an outing in which fairness and integrity are still the rules of the game."