Major League Baseball’s drug program needs changes

Will the recent rash of suspensions be another black eye on the face of MLB? Photo Courtesy: John Jakorski
Will the recent rash of suspensions be another black eye on the face of MLB?
Photo Courtesy: John Jakorski

By Alex Gustafson

With five suspensions in 25 days for performance enhancing drugs (Jenrry Mejia, David Rollins, Ervin Santana and Arodys Vizcaino were suspended for testing positive for stanozolol, a drug often used in body building, in a 16 day period.) Once again, MLB’s drug policy is in the spotlight. Note: See the Biogenesis scandal involving New York Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez and the company’s former owner Anthony Bosch.

Braves relief pitcher Andrew McKirahan was suspended for testing positive for ipamorelin, a drug which issues growth hormone. The 25-year-old lefty, a 21st round pick of the Chicago Cubs in the 2011 amateur draft who was claimed off waivers on April 1st by Atlanta after the Marlins had obtained his rights at the 2014 winter meetings. He had appeared in three games for the Braves, compiling a 4.15 earned run average. Due to his suspension, McKirahan will lose $221,858 of the $507,500 he was owed for the 2015 season.

These suspensions leave me to ponder three points:

Why are baseball fans just learning about new performance enhancing drugs?
Last season fans learned about Baltimore Orioles first basemen Chris Davis’ 25 game suspension (which covered the final 17 games of the 2014 regular season, the team’s seven postseason games in 2014 and Opening Day of 2015) for use of what Major League Baseball identified as amphetamine. However, Davis claimed his positive test was for Adderall, although he did not have league approval to use the substance for the 2014 season.

What do fans know about these drugs now?
Fans now have an idea of what these two drugs are about. Now they must know the side effects of these new drugs, how the suspended players obtained the drugs and why the league has such a strict punishment for drugs fans and the public have likely heard little about.

How could Major League Baseball possibly change its policy concerning PED’s?
MLB’s policy for these drugs are a bit drastic to me. Notably, Santana, who signed with the Minnesota Twins this past offseason and Mejia, who had a breakout 2014 as the team’s closer after starting the season in the rotation. These two pitchers were looked upon as players that would stabilize their teams’ respective pitching staffs.

My prediction: If there are more positive tests for these drugs in the future, then I could see the league brass keeping their current policy intact. However, if there are fewer positive tests over the next few seasons I could see the ban being moved down to a 50 game suspension.