MLB, union announce changes to drug policies

Field Level Media

December 12, 2019 at 5:24 pm.

Major League Baseball will begin testing for opioids and cocaine this spring, while marijuana has been removed from the list of drugs of abuse.

Players who test positive will be assigned to a treatment plan, and only those who fail to cooperate with that prescribed plan will be subject to disciplinary actions.

Those were the most significant changes to the drug prevention and treatment program announced Thursday by MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association.

“The opioid epidemic in our country is an issue of significant concern to Major League Baseball,” MLB deputy commissioner Dan Halem said in a statement. “It is our hope that this agreement — which is based on principles of prevention, treatment, awareness and education — will help protect the health and safety of our Players.”

The opioid crisis touched the sport directly last season, when Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs died after ingesting a toxic mix of alcohol, fentanyl and oxycodone.

“Players are overwhelmingly in favor of expanding our drug-testing regimen to include opioids, and want to take a leadership role in helping to resolve this national epidemic,” MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said in the release.

Players and team personnel will also be required to attend drug education programs during the 2020 and 2021 seasons.