Joint Drug Agreement (2005) -
Letter by Commissioner Selig to Donald Fehr
proposing changes to the JDA section of the Collective Bargaining
The following is the letter from Commissioner Allen "Bud" Selig to MLBPA Executive Director Donald M. Fehr in regards to proposing changes in the Joint Drug Agreement provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement:
April 25, 2005
Donald M. Fehr, Esq.
Major League Baseball
12 E. 49th Street
New York, NY 10017
Re: Joint Drug Agreement
I am writing as a follow up to our meeting in Washington, DC on April 14, 2005. As you know, I have grave concerns about the damage that has been done to Major League Baseball by players' use of performance enhancing substances. These concerns are shared equally by the Owners of all thirty Clubs. The use of such substances is, in our view, a fundamental challenge to the integrity of the game. Performance enhancing substances undermine the integrity of the competition on the field. Equally important, our failure to respond more quickly and vigorously has called into question the integrity of the institution of Major League Baseball, the Clubs, the Owners, the Major League Baseball Players Association and the individual players.
The Office of the Commissioner and the MLBPA should, and I believe do, share the common goal of ridding our sport of performance enhancing substances. Many players have been out spoken about their desire to rid the game of these substances and about their willingness to support a stiffer drug policy. The following comments are illustrative:
"As players, we want the fans to know we do care about this and we hold their opinion in high regard. The fans are a big part of what we do and what we're about. And we want them to know we do want stricter penalties if somebody gets caught. It would be a better game if we do it that way, if you get suspended for one year. Without pay. Everyone in the game wants the penalty, if a guy does it, to be so strong that you want him to think twice. I would think a year's suspension would be a pretty good start. It would show our fans we're serious about this, and that we want to better this game."
Jim Thome, ESPN.com, March 31, 2005
"I'm disappointed with Major League Baseball and the [\[players\] association for not implementing a plan that is completely solid. We need to prove to the fans that there's no question baseball should be clean and is clean, and we're not sending the right message with this policy. We're continuing to beat around the bush. Major League Baseball should set a higher standard, like the Olympic athletes. We are the best of the best. Why shouldn't we be accountable for things? I think we should."
Jeff Kent, San Francisco Chronicle, March 3, 2005
I, of course, recognize that as a legal matter drug testing of employees is a mandatory topic of bargaining under the National Labor Relations Act. From a practical perspective, however, this issue should not be viewed as one on which the clubs are demanding further concessions from the players and the MLBPA. Rather, this should be an issue on which we find a way to work together to restore the faith of our fans in the integrity of the competition on the field and in the integrity of our great institution.
As a sign of my commitment on this issue, I will be announcing changes to Major League Baseball's Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program Minor League Drug Policy that will be effective for the 2006 season. These changes will include tougher discipline, including a permanent ban for a third offense, stricter regulation of amphetamines and greater reliance on independent experts in the administration of the program. The Minor League Drug Policy is a good program that has effectively reduced steroid use. The time has come, however, to make the policy even better.
At the Major League level, we have also made progress on the issue of performance enhancing substances. The 2002 Basic Agreement was a start. The changes negotiated in January were another step forward. Nonetheless, I feel compelled to write today to ask you to join me in strengthening Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. I feel that at least the following changes should be made:
1. Discipline: Discipline levels should be increased within the framework of a three strikes and you are out approach. First offenders should be suspended for 50 games. Second offenders should be suspended for 100 games. Third offenders should be banned permanently. I recognize the need for progressive discipline, but a third-time offender has no place in the game. Steroid users cheat the game. After three offenses, they have no place in it.
2. Amphetamines: Illegal amphetamines should be banned as performance enhancing substances. It is time to put the whispers about amphetamine use to bed once and for all. To the extent that our culture has tolerated the use of these substances, the culture must change.
3. Frequency: The number of tests in the random component of the program should be increased to create further deterrence to the use of performance enhancing substances.
4. Independence: The Health Policy Advisory Committee (HPAC) should be stripped of its administrative responsibility for the program and should be replaced by a jointly-selected, independent expert. The independent expert should be given authority to administer the program from the collection of the urine through the testing at the lab and to the reporting of results. I know that our current program operates with integrity in that all players are tested under the same rules and all positives are reported. The move to an independent administrator will help convince the public of the integrity of our program without sacrificing player rights. I also believe that an independent expert will insure that our collection procedures meet accepted international standards.
5. Governmental Investigations: I appreciate your concerns about confidentiality given our experience in California with leaked grand jury testimony and other issues. However, at the same time, I feel we should revisit this language to make certain that it is drawn as narrowly as possible to address your legitimate concerns.
In recent years, the Office of the Commissioner and the MLBPA have made great strides in improving our labor relations. In 2002, we dealt effectively with a myriad of economic and non-economic issues and produced a landmark Basic Agreement without a strike or lockout. Last winter, we reopened our agreement to deal with steroids. I am asking you now to demonstrate once again to America that our relationship has improved to the point that we can act quickly and effectively deal with matters affecting the integrity of our great sport.
Don, I continue to believe that time is of the essence in addressing this issue. I look forward to your prompt response.
Very truly yours,
Allan H. Selig