NEW YORK (AP) -Baseball players and owners plan to turn most of the authority over testing for performance-enhancing drugs to the program's independent administrator while keeping oversight over drugs of abuse with a joint union-management body.
The sides established a third-party administrator when they amended their drug plan for the second time in November 2005, and they split authority between the administrator and baseball's Health Policy Advisory Committee, which has two members from each side.
Negotiators are close to an agreement that would amend the drug plan for a third time, and the independence of the administrator would be strengthened by establishing a fixed term and allowing his termination only for specified reasons, several people familiar with the talks said.
However, the administrator is unlikely to have all authority over performance-enhancing drugs, with a different third-party entity likely to be created for some issues. In addition, the commissioner will retain authority over discipline.
An agreement could be announced as early as Friday. As part of the deal, HPAC could be replaced by a different and renamed union-management body.
Negotiations began after former Senate majority leader George Mitchell issued his report on performance-enhancing drugs in December. The union has insisted that as part of an agreement, players implicated in the Mitchell Report not be disciplined.
Mitchell's report focused on performance-enhancing drugs and did not delve into drugs of abuse, such as cocaine, which were perceived to be a greater problem in the 1980s.
With the sides nearing an agreement, 15-day suspensions assessed in December to outfielders Jose Guillen and Jay Gibbons have been put on hold through April 15.
As part of a deal, the frequency of testing probably will increase.
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