Posted 10 November 2012 - 12:18 PM
Ah, you are speaking a language I am familiar with. In another life I produced a documentary about the "dry campus" policy at my university and the resulting impact in drinking & driving. This is something I learned interviewing criminal justice and psychology professors. Not exactly innovative or new to many but very relevant:
When looking at laws as a deterrent (in this case, laws = CBA), there are two factors; the severity of punishment and the likelihood of being caught. Increasing the severity, as you suggest, is likely to have minimal impact at best if the second half of the equation (will I get caught?) is unchanged. However, that relationship only lasts to a point - if either factor is elevated to a nuclear level - a lifetime ban for first offenders or a 75%+ chance of being caught, say - then deterrence skyrockets. For any particular law, figuring out where that tipping point for either factor requires study of the affected population.
Additionally, reaching those nuclear levels is often not feasible. In this example, there is too much uncertainty in test results to enforce a massive first-offender punishment, to say nothing of the Player's Association's negotiating power. Science suggests that we will not get to a place where the large majority of offenders are caught anytime soon.
This means that what I call an Unbalanced Deterrance system, extreme weighting towards either factor, is probably unachievable. A Balanced system is the only path. Here I veer into personal opinion: it's working better than it was. A MVP would have been busted if his lawyers hadn't been able to find an irregularity in the chain of custody. But because these tests still aren't close enough to perfect, I'm uncomfortable raising the penalty on first-time offenders. Here are the changes I'd make:
1) Increase the penalty for 2nd time offenders from 1 season to 2 seasons, and three strikes and you're out - forever.
2) change the CBA language to allow for more random testing and auto-modernizing of tests as scientific breakthroughs occur. When you can't increase enforcement, randomize it.
3) work with the testing vendor on their pocess to make sure a Braun incident doesn't occur again.
4) Remove non-PEDs from the testing/punishment language. It's not the league's place to monitor recreational drug usage, and frankly suspending players for marijuana usage in particular is archaic.