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The RULES, The LAW, The REALITY
DAVID EPSTEIN
February 16, 2009
A primer on baseball's steroid policy through the years
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February 16, 2009

The Rules, The Law, The Reality

A primer on baseball's steroid policy through the years

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"Many have asserted that steroids and other performance enhancing substances were not banned in Major League Baseball before the 2002 Basic Agreement. This is not accurate. Beginning in 1971 and continuing today, Major League Baseball's drug policy has prohibited the use of any prescription medication without a valid prescription. By implication, this prohibition applied to steroids even before 1991, when Commissioner Fay Vincent first expressly included steroids in baseball's drug policy. Steroids have been listed as a prohibited substance under the Major League Baseball drug policy since then, although no player was disciplined for steroid use before the prohibition was added to the collective bargaining agreement in 2002.

"It is also inaccurate to assert, as some have, that baseball's drug policy was not binding on players before it was added to the collective bargaining agreement. Many players were suspended for drug offenses before 2002, even though none of those suspensions related to the use of steroids or other performance enhancing substances. Some suspensions were reduced in grievance arbitrations brought by the Players Association, but no arbitrator ever has questioned the authority of the Commissioner to discipline players for 'just cause' based on their possession, use, or distribution of prohibited drugs."

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