Major League Baseball (MLB) and the MLB Players Association (MLAPA) said on Thursday they will add random in-season blood testing this year for human growth hormone in an expansion of the game’s anti-doping program.
The prior joint drug prevention and treatment program allowed for each player to be subject to an unannounced blood test during spring training and an unannounced, random test in the offseason.
Major League Baseball, which has been randomly testing its minor league players for HGH since July 2010, will become the only major North American sport to blood test unionized players.
“The players are determined to do all they can to continually improve the sport’s joint drug agreement,” MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner said. “Players want a program that is tough, scientifically accurate, backed by the latest proven scientific methods and fair. I believe these changes firmly support the players’ desires while protecting their legal rights.”
Records will also be kept on testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratios of players to prevent the unauthorized use of synthetic testosterone.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)-accredited Montreal Laboratory will establish a longitudinal profile program establishing baseline testosterone data for players and conducting Carbon Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IRMS) analysis on all specimens that vary materially from a player’s baseline values.
Christiane Ayotte, director of the laboratory, said a system that follows over a thousand steroid profiles and tests over a thousand blood specimens each year “compares favorably with any WADA program.”
“This agreement addresses critical drug issues and symbolizes Major League Baseball’s continued vigilance against synthetic human growth hormone, testosterone and other performance-enhancing substances,” MLB commissioner Bud Selig said. “I am proud that our system allows us to adapt to the many evolving issues associated with the science and technology of drug testing.”
The announcement comes a day after slugger Barry Bonds and pitcher Roger Clemens, who starred during the game’s so-called “steroid era,” were both shut out in voting for the Hall of Fame as for the first time since 1996 electors this year declined to name anyone to be inducted.
WADA director general David Howman welcomed baseball’s expanded anti-doping measures.
“By agreeing to in-season testing for human growth hormone and introducing longitudinal profiling for testosterone, MLB has significantly increased the effectiveness of its anti-doping program and enhanced its value in terms of deterrence,” Howman said in a statement, adding that baseball “has set a new standard for the other pro leagues to follow.”