Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association are considering a big change to the league’s drug policy following the opioid-related death of Tyler Skaggs.
The commissioner’s office and players’ union are expected to discuss expanding the MLB drug testing program to include random tests for opioids, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.
Opioids are currently not included in routine tests for MLB players. Tests for fentanyl and oxycodone, the drugs that killed Skaggs, are only performed with reasonable cause or part of a treatment program.
Obviously, a reason to change that has emerged for MLB and its players.
From the Times:
“For several reasons, including the tragic loss of a member of our fraternity and other developments happening in the country as a whole, it is appropriate and important to reexamine all of our drug protocols relating to education, treatment and prevention,” Tony Clark, the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Assn., said in a statement Friday.
Opioid testing is already reportedly mandated in the minor leagues, where players aren’t represented by the MLBPA. Seventy-five thousand tests over the last five years have reportedly yielded only 10 positive results, though the increased salaries and pressure could be reason to believe opioid abuse is more common in the majors.
It’s unclear what consequences could emerge from a positive test for MLB players. In the minors, a first positive test reportedly results in a player being referred to treatment while a second results in a suspension.
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