In January 2004, Major League Baseball announced a new drug policy which originally included random, offseason testing and 10-day suspensions for first-time offenders, 30-days for second-time offenders, 60-days for third-time offenders, and one year for fourth-time offenders, all without pay, in an effort to curtail performance-enhancing drug use (PED) in professional baseball. This policy strengthened baseball's pre-existing ban on controlled substances , including steroids, which has been in effect since 1991.  The policy was to be reviewed in 2008, but under pressure from the . Congress , on November 15, 2005, players and owners agreed to tougher penalties; a 50-game suspension for a first offense, a 100-game suspension for a second, and a lifetime ban for a third.
In the league's early years, a handful of players were banned permanently because of their involvement with point shaving in college, although Connie Hawkins was able to overturn the ban through litigation. Several more were banned permanently for abusing banned substances and they usually never returned, though some such as Micheal Ray Richardson and Chris Andersen were able to return to play after the ban. Among those suspended, Metta World Peace (then Ron Artest) and Latrell Sprewell faced the most serious punishments for on-court altercations; they were suspended 86 and 68 games, respectively. Gilbert Arenas was also suspended for more than half of the regular-season games for bringing firearms into an arena and drawing them during a dispute.