Since performance-enhancing drug testing began in earnest in 2004, the penalties for violating the rules have been stiffened. A flunked steroid test triggers an automatic 50-game suspension without pay. A second positive test results in a 100-game ban, and strike three results in a lifetime ban, with the player having the right to seek reinstatement after two years, and to seek arbitration if he's turned down. If a player is actually caught by law enforcement officials and convicted of having illegal steroids in his possession, the punishment is even tougher -- a 60-to-80-game suspension for the first offense, with up to a one-year ban for the second strike, with the third strike triggering the same lifetime penalty as a failed test. A conviction for distribution -- i.e. giving or selling steroids to other players -- will earn a player an automatic 80-to-100-game ban for the first offense, and a lifetime ban the second time around. That's in addition to whatever prison term a player might receive from the courts [source: MLBplayers.mlb.com].
The penalties for using amphetamines and other banned stimulants are considerably less severe. A player who tests positive for speed gets off with just a warning and mandatory follow-up testing, and a second positive earns him just a 25-game suspension. A third offense takes him out of uniform for 80 games, and it takes a fourth offense before the Commissioner can impose harsher penalties, up to and including a lifetime ban. The possession penalties are similarly lighter than steroids, though the ones for stimulant distribution are comparable [source: MLBplayers.mlb.com].