APNewsBreak: MLB, players stop drug testing during lockdown

FILE - A rain-covered logo is seen at Fenway Park prior to Game 1 of the World Series baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018 in Boston.  The mood for Major League Baseball fans is a bit gloomy these days as the players' union and owners continue to bicker over finances.  The owners locked out the players on December 2 and unless an agreement between the two parties is quickly reached, the spring training schedule is in trouble.  The first games are scheduled for February 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

FILE – A rain-covered logo is seen at Fenway Park prior to Game 1 of the World Series baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018 in Boston. The mood for Major League Baseball fans is a bit gloomy these days as the players’ union and owners continue to bicker over finances. The owners locked out the players on December 2 and unless an agreement between the two parties is quickly reached, the spring training schedule is in trouble. The first games are scheduled for February 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

PA

Major League Baseball has stopped testing players for steroids for the first time in nearly 20 years due to the expiration of the sports drug deal, two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press. joint sports drug program.

The people spoke on condition of anonymity on Monday because no public announcement was made.

The testing halt is a victim of the sports lockdown that began Dec. 2 and a provision in the joint drug deal between MLB and the players’ association that states that “the date and time The end of the program will be 11:59 p.m. ET on December 1, 2021.”

“This should be a major concern for anyone who values ​​fair play,” Travis Tygart, chief executive of the US Anti-Doping Agency, said on Monday.

MLB and the union declined to comment on the ruling.

Last month, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were denied Hall of Fame election by baseball writers over suspicions of PED use. Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez, who both served drug suspensions, did not vote.

“If it’s just about accepting,” Tygart said, “you would have hoped they could have figured that out, so that when the game restarts you don’t have questions hanging over individual players. .based on size, speed, batting percentage, home run count, whatever it is that people are going to question again.

MLB and the union conducted 47,973 tests from 2017-21, including 7,327 during the offseasons, according to a November report from Thomas M. Martin, the program’s independent administrator.

Absent a fear of detection, it is difficult to predict whether some players will attempt to use PEDs in the lead up to a new collective bargaining agreement accompanied by a restoration of the drug testing program. .

“You could easily do what cyclists did even in a good test program, which was to microdose testosterone,” Tygart said. “You can do testosterone gels or oral pills that might be out of your system and you can do more in maybe weeks.”

Baseball reached its first joint drug deal in late 2002, an agreement that included investigative testing in 2003.

Urine testing for DCs with penalties for violations began in 2004 as part of a series of repeatedly tightened drug deals. Testing for banned amphetamines began in 2006 and in 2012 blood testing for human growth hormone began, although it was suspended last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In December 2007, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell released a report commissioned by MLB that implicated 85 players in the use of PEDs, including seven MVPs and 31 All-Stars. Many have denied the allegations.

While prominent players suspended under the drug program include Rafael Palmeiro (2005), Ramirez (2009 and 2011), Rodriguez (2014) and Robinson Canó (2014), there have only been five positives for the PED among 8,436 tests in the year ending with the 2021 World Series: Miami pitcher Paul Campbell, Oakland outfielder Ramón Laureano, Seattle pitcher Héctor Santiago, San Francisco pitcher Gregory Santos and Colorado third baseman Colton Welker.

The shutdown of baseball testing was reported to players in a “work stoppage guide” created by the Major League Baseball Players Association and distributed to its members, a copy of which was obtained by the AP.

“Will Joint Drug Agreement (JDA) testing be administered during a work stoppage?” read a title on page 19.

“Based on precedent in the NFL and NHL, it is unlikely that MLB would be able to administer JDA testing during a work stoppage,” the guide said.

On another topic, the union believes players could sign to play with teams in Japan and South Korea during the lockdown, a prospect that could become more attractive as the shutdown increasingly threatens on the day of the match. opening March 31.

“The AP would challenge any attempt by MLB to interfere with players who choose to compete in a foreign league during a lockout,” the guide said. “During the 2004-2005 work stoppage, a large number of NHL players chose to play internationally.

In a sign of a potential grievance should the lockout extend into the regular season and cost players, the guide says: “The PA will take the position, consistent with other sports unions in previous lockouts, that A player injured and unable to play at the time of the lockout must receive his salary and have access to rehabilitation until he is medically cleared.

Teams cut off access to medical staff and club facilities when the lockdown began. The union has provided training facilities for the players.

The parties remain distant on the terms of an agreement. Owners meet Tuesday through Thursday in Orlando, Fla., and union staff will meet with players in Arizona and then Florida this week.

Last week, the players rejected MLB’s request for the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to assist in the talks, and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh offered to help on Monday.

“I have spoken to both MLBPA and MLB about the ongoing contract negotiations and I encourage both parties to continue their engagement,” Walsh said in a statement, first reported by Politico. “Like any contract negotiation in any industry, I am ready to help facilitate productive conversations that yield the best results for workers and employers.

Players blame owners for bringing in the lockdown. The guide acknowledges what commissioner Rob Manfred has said, which is that MLB believes the timing of a lockout that begins in the offseason is more beneficial to clubs than a season-ending strike, such as the August walkout in 1994.

“In recent years, work stoppages in other professional sports (NFL, NHL, NBA) have all been lockouts,” the guide said. “At the end of the day, the owners would prefer to pick the timing of a work stoppage and try to do it when it’s Management doesn’t want the players to have the option of going on strike in the middle of the season, or before the playoffs, when it would be the most damaging for the clubs.

The guide states that health benefits for players who were on 40-player rosters at any time during the 2021 season will be covered until the start of the 2022 season. At this point, “the Palestinian Authority will ensure that your health cover remains intact”.

The union began making $5,000 stipends available to players from the money he saved. The guide discusses similar types of payments in the past, but stresses that “even if the board authorizes player financial assistance, be aware that the amount of any assistance will be well below the player’s contract salary.”

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