NEW YORK – Baseball players and owners have reached an agreement on a tougher steroid-testing program and plan to announce it Thursday, The Associated Press has learned.
The agreement will include penalties for first-time offenders, an AL player said on condition of anonymity. Other details, such as the frequency of tests, were not immediately available.
Commissioner Bud Selig (search), asked about a steroid agreement at the owners meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz., declined comment but did say: "We'll have announcements to make tomorrow." Gene Orza, the union's chief operating officer, also declined comment.
"I'm glad we could come to an agreement," said Chicago Cubs pitcher Mike Remlinger (search), who was briefed on the deal Wednesday. "It was the right thing to do. I think it was something that needed to be done, and I think players understand it needed to be addressed."
The sides spent the past month negotiating the deal after the union's executive board gave its staff approval to pursue an agreement on a more rigorous testing program. Some in Congress threatened to take action unless baseball reached an agreement on its own.
"I think it's going to entail more testing, some out-season testing, yes, more in-season random testing and stiffer penalties," said New York Mets pitcher Tom Glavine (search), a senior member of the union.
Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, said he anticipated confirmation of a deal by the end of the owners' meeting.
"It will be wonderful once it's done, but I don't want to pre-empt any announcement, and I certainly don't want to pre-empt all the work the commissioner has done on this, so I'll reserve my comments until after it's announced," he said.
Players and owners agreed to a drug-testing plan in 2002 that called for survey-testing for steroids the following year. Because more than 5 percent of tests were positive, random testing with penalties began last year. Each player was tested for steroids twice over a single five- to seven-day period.
A first positive test resulted in treatment. If a player tested positive again, he would have been subject to a 15-day suspension.
No player was suspended for steroid use in 2004.
Since the 2002 agreement, baseball has come under increased scrutiny for steroid use. Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield testified before a federal grand jury in San Francisco December 2003. Giambi and Sheffield admitted using steroids, according to reports by the San Francisco Chronicle. Sheffield said he wasn't aware when he used the substances that they contained steroids.
Bonds, according to the paper, admitted using substances prosecutors say contained steroids.
"Everybody believed that the program we had in place was having an effect and definitely it was doing what it designed to do," Glavine said, "but having said that, with the stuff that was going on and whatnot, it forced us to take a look at revising it or making it a little tougher. It was not a question anymore if that agreement was going to be enough. It was a question to address some of the new issues that came to light and get our fans to believe we were doing everything we could to make the problem go away 100 percent."