When the Mitchell Report issued last December, MLBPA Executive Director, Donald Fehr said that the Players Association would consider in good faith possible improvements to our Joint Drug Agreement (JDA). Today, the MLBPA is pleased to announce it has reached an agreement with the Clubs upon a number of changes to the JDA. These new agreements are subject to final review of language and ratification by both the players and owners.
The new modifications to the JDA enhance the independence and transparency of the program; significantly increase the number of random tests conducted both in-season and off-season; provide for an annual meeting to discuss possible improvements that can be made to the program; provide a process for uniform certification requirements for strength and conditioning coaches for each club who will provide guidance to players on proper nutrition and training; and ensure that in the future players whose conduct is the subject of an investigation will receive protections that guarantee fundamental fairness. "What we have done is taken a program which we believe is the best in professional sports and made it even stronger," said MLBPA Executive Director Don Fehr.
Major League players, including players named in the Mitchell Report, will engage with MLB in efforts to educate young athletes and their families about the dangers of unlawful performance enhancing drugs, and the MLBPA will contribute $200,000 to an anti-drug charitable, educational or research organization(s).
As part of the agreement, there will be no fines or suspensions of players for past acts that are discussed in the Mitchell Report. This, of course, is consistent with the Senator's recommendation that no further punishment is necessary, and that foregoing further punishment of players will help the parties move forward. "We are gratified that Commissioner Selig chose to accept Senator Mitchell's recommendation that no further punishment of players is warranted," Fehr said. "In many instances the naming of players was punishment enough; in others it may have been unfair. But as Senator Mitchell said, 'Baseball does not need and cannot afford to engage in a never-ending search for the name of every player who ever used performance enhancing substances.' The agreement will help the parties get a fresh start and put this issue behind us."
Under the new agreements, in future investigations of player conduct, nothing will be disclosed publicly unless discipline is imposed. Before he is interviewed, the player will be given a complete description of the evidence and allegations against him. And, of course, the player will have the opportunity to challenge a determination of wrongdoing before a neutral arbitrator. "These changes were necessary in order to make certain that in any future investigations procedures that ensure fundamental fairness will be in place," said Fehr.
Finally, Fehr noted, "The agreement is not static. It calls for some changes to be made automatically and provides that others may be implemented after discussion by and agreement of the parties. But a decent respect for collective bargaining demands that the terms of agreements be honored, and obviously the length of the contract is one of those terms. Given the series of modifications which have previously been made, as well as the flexibility provided for in the current JDA, we do not expect to be renegotiating the JDA again prior to the next scheduled round of collective bargaining."