Jonathan Singleton's Suspension Reveals Double Standard in MLB Drug Testing

By Christopher Gamble
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Astros prospect Jonathan Singleton was recently suspended for 50 games for testing positive for marijuana. Singleton, 21, is one of the best prospects in baseball, and his loss for 50 games will put him a little further back as he tries to climb his way up the minor league ladder.

What is interesting about Singleton’s case is that had he been on the Astros 40-man roster, he never would have been tested for the drug, revealing a huge double standard in Major League Baseball‘s drug testing policies. Players at the Major League level are not tested for marijuana, but everyone outside of the 40-man roster is tested for the drug.

Major League baseball lists marijuana as one of its banned substances. However, it is not tested for at the MLB level. Since the whole steroids situation that began a few years ago, all of the focus on MLB’s testing policies seem to be focused on performance-enhancing drugs. This season will also mark the first one in which human growth hormone, or HGH, is randomly tested for.

However, an illegal (in 48 out of 50 states anyway) narcotic is not tested for. Is the message Major League Baseball sending to their younger players that they can’t smoke marijuana in the minors but when one gets to the Major Leagues, it is perfectly fine?

Singleton has a bright future ahead of him. He currently projects as the first baseman of the future for the Astros and should start to make an impact at the Major League level in a year or two. However, everything gets put on hold for 50 games all because he smoked something he shouldn’t have.

Smoking marijuana is against the law. So is drunk driving. How many athletes every year get arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol? How many have been suspended for their actions by Bud Selig? The answers are a lot and none. We have seen Miguel Cabrera arrested in 2011 for driving under the influence. Michael Pineda was also arrested last season while he was rehabbing for the New York Yankees in Tampa. Coco Crisp, Derek Lowe, Adam Kennedy, and Shin-Soo Choo come to mind for having been arrested for DUI in the last couple of years. None of them were suspended by baseball despite endangering their own life and the lives of others.

However, Singleton, who probably smoked the marijuana at his home, will have to miss 50 games while every major leaguer is free to drink and drive and smoke the very same substance without repercussion. That hardly seems fair if you ask me.

Did Singleton make a mistake? Yes. He apologized for it and will pay the price. However, MLB is sending the wrong message to its young players by allowing the same things to go unpunished at the MLB level.

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