Even if Major League baseball and the players union agreed to every recommendation in the Mitchell Report tomorrow, stemming the use of performance-enhancing drugs will be a long-term project with no easy solutions.
Experts devoted to eliminating drugs in sports say its a three-part problem, one that involves finding an effective test for human growth hormone, staying ahead of those creating new illegal drugs and, most important, changing the drug culture in baseball.
Don Catlin, one of the world's foremost scientists in the fight against doping, said he has made some headway with the US$500,000 that MLB gave him to begin work on finding an effective urine test to detect HGH.
HGH was identified in the Mitchell Report as one of the biggest problems, in large part because it's nearly undetectable. Only blood tests can detect signs of HGH use, and they aren't considered advanced enough to catch cheaters who use any measure of sophistication.
A urine test is thought by some to be years away, though Catlin is trying, and has had enough success that he is considering asking for more money to move the studies forward.
"But let's say we get that contained tomorrow," Catlin said. "The next day, there's going to be another one."
For instance, Catlin said he was starting to get word of new designer types of EPO that are essentially undetectable to a type of testing that MLB doesn't currently perform anyway.
EPO is a banned substance that increases the amount of oxygen that blood can carry to the body's muscles.
A number of experts were most encouraged by the report's recommendation that MLB find ways to investigate and punish drug users who don't test positive, but are linked to receipt and use of drugs nonetheless.
Going after these so-called "non-analytical" cases is an increasingly important step in the US Anti-Doping Agency's effort to keep drugs out of Olympic sports. Sprinter Marion Jones lost her five medals from the 2000 Sydney Olympics as the result of legal issues and evidence that did not include a positive doping test.
But Catlin believes as long as athletes are looking for an edge, people will find new pharmaceuticals to give them that edge.
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