June 11, 2012
Inside the 2012-16 MLB CBA: Major Changes Come to the League’s Drug Policy
In the first installment of this series, I noted how it took 183 days from the time that the MLBPA and MLB reached a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on a new labor agreement until the document was released to the public. It was a long time, which speaks to the complexities involved in the union/management relationship in sports. And while the CBA was released on May 23rd of this year, the associated drug agreement was not.
That changed this past week; on Thursday, the league and union issued a statement on the changes to the drug policy from the prior agreement and released it in full.
It’s hard not to look back to see how far the league has come in terms of its drug policy and the attitude of the union around performance-enhancing drugs. Less than a decade ago, Gene Orza, then the COO of the MLBPA, said the following:
"Let's assume that (steroids) are a very bad thing to take," said Orza, who was speaking on a panel at The Octagon World Congress of Sports in 2004. "I have no doubt that they are not worse than cigarettes. But I would never say that to the clubs as an individual who represents the interests of players, 'Gee, I guess by not allowing baseball to suspend and fine players for smoking cigarettes, I am not protecting their health.'
Flash-forward to Thursday, and here’s what the MLBPA had to say about the latest drug policy and the associated program:
“These latest changes and revisions to the Joint Drug Agreement reflect the players’ desire to have the strongest possible Drug Prevention and Treatment Program in professional team sports,” said MLBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner. “Today’s announcement reflects one of the greatest strengths of the Program – its ability to be improved through the collective bargaining process.”