Baseball to expand drug-testing program, Michael Weiner says
Michael Weiner, the executive director of the players association, said Wednesday that baseball intends to expand its drug-testing program for the 2013 season.
With an increased number of suspensions the past year, Weiner revealed that the union has been in discussions with the commissioner's office on how to raise the deterrent level for PED cheats, which is likely to include the introduction of in-season testing for human growth hormone (HGH).
"The number of positives that we've had have caught the attention of both sides and we're trying to address them," Weiner said after the Players Association meeting in midtown Manhattan. "We had more testosterone positives than in the past [but] some of the detections that we had I don't think could have been done by any other program. We caught some people that I'm not sure any other drug-testing program could have caught in light of the sophistication of our testing -- and we're going to make it more sophisticated.
"We really believe that the best way to deter conduct is to make it more likely that players will get caught. That's more important than to focus on the severity of the penalty."
Weiner agreed with commissioner Bud Selig, who said earlier this month at the owners' meetings that the current penalties for testing positive are sufficient. Weiner said that a 50-game suspension for a first offense was fair, considering it encompassed not only players trying to beat the system, but also those who made a mistake, either by unknowingly ingesting a banned ingredient or simple negligence.
But improving the testing methods, either by frequency or sophistication, would better equip baseball to combat the advanced technology now used for testosterone or HGH doping.
"I would expect you'd see an announcement before too long," Weiner said.
On the same day that Weiner revealed those details, the controversial 2013 ballot for the Hall of Fame also was released, a list that includes some first-time PED-tainted candidates such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. When asked his thoughts about their chances, Weiner declined to make any predictions, but did provide some insight into the much-debated subject.
"Obviously every voter gets his or her own way of interpreting the criteria," Weiner said. "In every instance, I think you have to look at the legal proceedings, what the proof is and what the evidence is in those issues. It strikes me as unfair for a voter to say, you understand that Roger Clemens was exonerated by a court, but me, as my personal jury, I think he's guilty and therefore I'm going to take this action against him. That doesn't seem right to me."
Weiner does believe, however, that former union chief Marvin Miller, who died Tuesday of liver cancer at the age of 95, will finally be voted into the Hall of Fame posthumously after he was denied for so long.
"I give Don Fehr credit for a lot of things, and for a long time Don said, Marvin will get into the Hall of Fame just after he passes away," Weiner said. "To the extent that anything in baseball or the Hall of Fame can be called a travesty, that would be one, that would be it. Marvin adhered to the view that he didn't want to be in the Hall of Fame and it didn't matter to him. But it really did."