Atlanta Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur wants Major League Baseball to punish performance-enhancing drug users more severely, and the 12-year veteran says he is not alone.
In an appearance on Buster Olney’s “ESPN’s Baseball Tonight” podcast Thursday, Francoeur estimated that 90 percent of MLB players are in favor of stiffer PED penalties.
“The system is flawed,” Francoeur said, per ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. “There’s no other way around it. Guys get docked 80 games (pay) or whatever it is. Yeah, that’s a lot of money. But if you sign a $60 million deal and you’re losing maybe $5 million, it’s worth it for a lot of these guys. It stinks because there are buddies of mine who were basically battling these guys for jobs. It’s just unfair.”
Francoeur said he knows some PED users and likes them on a personal level, but he still considers them cheaters.
“I know a lot of guys that have been busted, and they’re good people,” he said. “I like them a lot. But at the end of the day, they’re cheating the system.”
The current joint drug-testing program calls for an 80-game suspension for a first-time violation, 162 games for the second offense and a lifetime ban for the third. A dozen MLB players have already been suspended this season, with plenty more getting penalized under baseball’s minor league drug agreement
While the goal of the MLB Players Association is to keep power away from the league, Francoeur believes the players may have to cede control in this instance.
“We stand our ground on a lot of issues, whether it’s arbitration or free-agency rights. We fight hard for that as a union,” he said. “But you’re probably looking at 90 percent of players that want stiffer penalties on PEDs. I think we have to start listening to the majority of the players, and not the other way around.”
Earlier this season, Justin Verlander went off about PED penalties and called for them to be more harsh. You can read his tweet here.
Some will argue that there are instances where a player legitimately doesn’t know he took something that was on MLB’s banned substance list. Should players be banned for life in those situations, or do they deserve another chance? That has, and will continue to be, the biggest debate.
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