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Blame the players and their union for a lot of it. They fought testing for years and were so powerful that owners didn’t dare challenge them.

But blame the owners, too. They made their money and got new stadiums while looking the other way as all those mammoth home runs soared out of the park. They keep throwing millions at players like Bartolo Colon and Melky Cabrera even after they’ve been busted for juicing.

Nothing will totally to stop doping because the rewards are so great and there will always be those who try. That’s true in many sports but especially baseball, where the money is so big.

But here’s a place to start if both owners and players want to show they’re really serious about cracking down:

_Make the penalty hurt. Fifty games is a joke, and clearly not a real deterrent. Make it a year’s suspension for the first offense, and a lifetime ban if you’re dumb enough to be caught twice.

_Test more. The biggest hole in the baseball drug program is during the offseason, when players face just a one-in-six chance of being tested. With those odds, why not take the chance of bulking up during the offseason?

_Void contracts. Ryan Braun is losing $3 million for sitting out 65 games this season. Think he would be doping if he thought the remainder of the $117 million on his contract could be voided for cheating?

_Don’t reward juicers. Limit new deals for players caught cheating to one-year contracts for the MLB minimum. If they play clean for that year, allow them to become free agents once again.

It’s all relatively easy stuff that could be settled over dinner between owners and players if the rhetoric you hear now about everyone wanting a clean game is really true. It won’t be, because sometimes reality doesn’t match the rhetoric.

In the meantime, I know a story about helicobacter pylori that you’ll really find interesting.


Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at) or