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More tests, All-Star ban added to drug program

MLB, union modify and clarify collection and appeal procedures

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association announced Thursday a series of changes to its Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, one of which will make players who are suspended for violating the program ineligible for the following All-Star Game.

Some of the other changes were agreed upon during the collective bargaining negotiations and others came about as the result of Ryan Braun's overturned suspension this spring.

The changes that appear to be a result of the Braun case include the modification of the collection procedures of the program to clearly specify when collectors must deliver specimens to the courier, as well as how specimens should be stored prior to delivery. The appeals procedure was also amended to include the circumstances under which missteps in the procedure will result in the invalidation of test results.

Players will be ruled out of the All-Star Game if they are suspended during the period from the end of one season to the next year's All-Star break.

"These modifications to expand upon the comprehensive nature of our program are consistent with our efforts to ensure we are running the highest quality drug testing in professional sports," said Rob Manfred, MLB's executive vice president for economics and league affairs. "This agreement is a reflection of our commitment to monitoring our program and making upgrades in all possible areas in order to best serve our game."

The other changes to the program include:

• Adding human-growth hormone blood testing during Spring Training, during the offseason and for reasonable cause. MLB and the union also agreed to study expanding HGH testing to the regular season.

• Increasing the number of random tests during the season and offseason.

• Creating an expert panel of recognized experts on attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to advise the independent program administrator on therapeutic-use exemption applications for ADD/ADHD medications, and another expert panel of medical professionals to advise the IPA on TUE applications for other medications.

• Strengthening the protocols for addressing use by players of drugs of abuse.

• Permitting public announcement of the specific substance that resulted in a player's positive test result or discipline.

• Establishing a protocol for evaluating and treating players who may suffer from an alcohol use problem or who have engaged in off-field violent conduct.

• Clarifying the rules for violations for use or possession of prohibited substances based on evidence other than positive test results, known as non-analytical positives.

• Increasing the penalties for criminal convictions for possession or use of drugs of abuse, including stimulants.

MLB and the MLBPA have added more than 45 performance-enhancing substances and stimulants to the list of banned substances since the inauguration of the May 2008 program.

"These latest changes and revisions to the Joint Drug Agreement reflect the players' desire to have the strongest possible Drug Prevention and Treatment Program in professional team sports," MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner said. "Today's announcement reflects one of the greatest strengths of the program -- its ability to be improved through the collective bargaining process."

Paul Casella is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella.