BALCO stands for Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative, a San Francisco, California company founded by Victor Conte. According to the U.S. Government, BALCO branched out into other areas including distribution of banned performance enhancing drugs. The "nutritional supplements" being sold by BALCO were illegal under olympic rules and track athletes were soon tested by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. During the BALCO steroid scandal, allegations that top baseball and football players had used illegal performance enhancing drugs were brought to light.
Major League Baseball had an established steroid policy which was created in 2002. Under this old policy, a first time offense would only result in treatment for the player. Not one player was ever suspended. After the BALCO scandal, Major League Baseball finally decided to buckle down and issue harsher penalties for steroid users. The new policy, which was accepted by Major League Baseball players and owners, was issued at the start of the 2005 season and goes as follows:
The first positive test will result in a suspension of up to ten days. The second positive test will result in a suspension of thirty days. The third positive test will result in a suspension of sixty days. The fourth positive test will result in a suspension of one full year. Finally, the fifth positive test will result in a penalty at the discretion of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball. Players will be tested at least once per year, with a chance that several players can be tested numerous times per year.
Bud Selig, the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, virtually created the existing policy and in light of recent evidence, has proposed even tougher penalties for positive tests than the ones in place today. The new penalties that Bud Selig has proposed are a "three strikes and you're out approach" which goes as follows:
The first positive test would result in a fifty game suspension. The second positive test would result in a one-hundred game suspension. Finally, the third positive test would result in a lifetime suspension from Major League Baseball.
These new proposed penalties are much harsher than either of the first two; however, they must be accepted by both the players union and owners before any changes can be made. Under the current policy, the first Major League ballplayers have been suspended for testing positive. The players suspended for violating Major League Baseball's drug program are listed below in chronological order.