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Baseball's drug suspensions could get longer — and shorter

Baseball's drug suspensions could get longer — and shorter
Pitcher Guillermo Mota was suspended 100 games after taking what he said was children's cough medicine with "trace amounts of a prohibited substance." Under proposed new rules on the use of banned substances in baseball, an arbitrator could reduce such a suspension. (Bob Levey / Getty Images)

The suspensions levied on baseball players who test positive for banned substances are on the verge of getting longer — and shorter.

The commissioner's office and players union are close to agreement on a revised code of punishment under baseball's drug policy, according to a person with knowledge of the negotiations but not authorized to comment on them.

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The agreement would lengthen suspensions to about 80 games for a first offense and 162 games for a second offense — that is, half a season in the first case, an entire season in the second. The current punishments are 50 games for a first offense and 100 games for a second offense.

However, the agreement would also authorize an arbitrator to reduce a suspension if a player could prove he had inadvertently taken a banned substance. In 2012, for instance, pitcher Guillermo Mota was suspended 100 games after taking what he said was children's cough medicine with a "trace amounts of a prohibited substance."

The agreement would not mandate the length of a suspension for inadvertent use; instead, the arbitrator would determine an appropriate reduction depending on the circumstances of each case.

The parties hope to reach agreement by Sunday when the Dodgers and San Diego Padres open the domestic part of the regular season.

The negotiations were first reported by the Associated Press.

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