CHICAGO -- Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg said Friday that performance-enhancing drug users should receive two- to three-year suspensions.
"The message can't get much clearer that drugs don't belong in baseball and don't belong in sports," said Sandberg, the Philadelphia Phillies' interim manager. "Every time baseball takes a hit, it is another step backwards in what needs to be done. I personally think the punishment and penalties need to be much stiffer than that. If you have a guy who tests positive and he has to sit out two to three years, that is a little different ballgame."
The current system calls for a player to be suspended 50 games for a first positive test, 100 for a second and a receive a lifetime ban for a third. Earlier this season, New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was suspended 211 games and Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun got 65 games for their roles in the Biogenesis scandal. Rodriguez is still playing while he appeals the suspension.
Sandberg, who won National League MVP in 1984, made playing the game the "clean way" a central theme in his Hall of Fame induction speech in 2005.
"The testing is aggressive and it seems to work, but the message can't get out there any clearer that [steroids] don't belong in baseball," Sandberg said.
Sandberg, who played 15 seasons with the Cubs, returned to Wrigley Field on Friday for the first time as a major league manager. He took over in Philadelphia after the Phillies fired Charlie Manuel on Aug. 16.