As a new year approaches and seasons of sports begin getting planned out, it is common for rules and regulations to get adjusted for the changing times. And that is exactly what is happening within the Major League Baseball (or MLB) organization, with the announcement of a big shift in its drug use and testing policies. According to a new report from NPR, the league will begin mandatory testing for opioids in 2020.
Interestingly, cocaine was also added to the mandatory “drugs of abuse” list; though marijuana was downgraded. And it all set to begin during the next spring training session.
MLB Chief Legal Officer Dan Halem made the announcement, highlighting the addiction crisis the country is currently facing as well as the importance of recovery.
“The opioid epidemic in our country is an issue of significant concern to Major League Baseball,” Halem told NPR. “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 official announcement was also published via Twitter…
The good news is, the league is looking at issues like opioid addiction with compassion. Fentanyl was also brought up as a mandatory testing substance, but the consequences were not necessarily thought of as punishment. In fact, those who do test positive are said to be further evaluated and prescribed a treatment plan.
The officials also added that the policy was reviewed and blessed by the Players Association, meaning it has the full support of the MLB athletes.
Education is yet another component of the new movement. According to the press release, in the coming season all players and team staffers will be required to take classes on the “dangers of opioid pain medications.”
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy was also quoted on the release, via Program Director Jim Carroll.
“Millions of Americans struggle with substance misuse and need help,” Carroll added. “We applaud the efforts of both Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association to prioritize treatment over punishment.”
And on a final somber note, the initiative did harken back to a recent high profile death within the league. Sadly, Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs lost his life to an overdose this past July. The goal, of course, would be to prevent any additional drug-related tragedies.