Major League Baseball to start testing for opioids and cocaine, but marijuana removed from list

Major League Baseball to start testing for opioids and cocaine, but marijuana removed from list

Opioids are classified as a drug of abuse under the joint major league programme, which began in late 2002 and until now has limited testing to performance-enhancing substances and banned stimulants.

Only players who do not cooperate with their treatment plans will be subject to discipline under the new system.

Marijuana will now be treated the same as alcohol as part of changes announced on Thursday to the joint drug agreement between MLB and the players' association.

In addition, suspensions for marijuana use will be dropped from the minor league drug program.

Talks to add testing for opioids began following the death of Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, who was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area on July 1.

A medical examiner's office said the 27-year-old was found to have a toxic mix of alcohol and the painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his body.

"I'm just thankful that the players union and MLB were able to address a serious issue in our nation that doesn't have any boundaries and crosses lines into sport and work together for the betterment of our players," LA Angels general manager Billy Eppler said.

Under the changes, which were brought about in part by some states legalising marijuana, MLB will test for opioids, Fentanyl, cocaine, and synthetic Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Players who test positive will be referred to the treatment board established under the agreement.

Players and team staff will have to attend mandatory educational programs in 2020 and 2021 on the dangers of opioid pain medications and practical approaches to marijuana.

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