As a result of the expired collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between MLB and the Players Association in December 2021, the league has stopped testing for steroids, according to the Associated Press.
For the first time in almost 20 years, the league is no longer testing players for steroid use, mainly because the Joint Drug Program expired at the same time the 2017-2021 CBA did.
MLB has stopped testing for steroids for the first time in 20 years due to expiration of sport's drug agreement pic.twitter.com/W8NGfhpSbO
— Bush Leaguer (@BushLeague101) February 8, 2022
Per the program, “the termination date and time of the program shall be 11:59 p.m. ET on Dec. 1, 2021.”
Both the league and the union declined to comment on the development.
Bud Selig: Commissioner of MLB during steroid era, didn’t implement PED testing until 2004 – Hall of Famer.
Barry Bonds: used PED’s during the steroid era, never failed a test once MLB implemented testing. Most feared hitter of all time – NOT a Hall of Famer. 🤔
— Will Middlebrooks (@middlebrooks) January 27, 2021
However, it is expected that the new CBA, when it’s finally negotiated, includes a new drug testing program.
Anti-Doping Agencies Don’t Hide Their Concerns
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) expressed its concern, nonetheless.
“It should be a major concern to all those who value fair play,” Travis Tygart, the chief executive officer of the organization, said Monday according to the AP article.
He elaborated on the topic:
“If it’s just a simple matter of agreeing to it, you would have hoped they would have been able to get that figured out, so that when the game does restart, you don’t have questions hanging over individual players based on size, speed, batting percentage, home run numbers, whatever it may be, that people are going to call into question again.”
Throughout the duration of the 2017-21 CBA, the league and the Players Association conducted 47,973 tests, 7,327 of which were performed during offseasons.
There is a chance some players decide to experiment with steroids as long as there is no Joint Drug Program, but seeing the social penalty some of the previous users have had to pay even in a time they weren’t explicitly banned, they will think twice about it.
But the USADA is concerned anyway, because there are ways to navigate the situation.
“You could easily do what the cyclists were doing even in a good testing program, which was microdosing of testosterone. You can do testosterone gels or oral pills that could be out of your system and you can do more in maybe weeks.”
A Deal Between MLB And The Union Isn’t Close
The early 2000s brought lots of steroid-related problems to MLB, which prompted all parties involved to implement the joint drug agreement in late 2002.
While it’s likely that the new CBA has some sort of joint drug agreement, both sides aren’t close to reaching a deal.
The league is looking for a mediator because it believes players aren’t willing to negotiate.
Players aren’t willing to cede to all of the owners’ wishes, though.
The scenario, at least with spring training and Opening Day in mind, is getting muddier by the day.
Players and fans are the biggest losers: the former don’t get paid if they don’t play, and the latter miss out on the sport they love and follow.