Major League Baseball reached a deal with its players' association to expand the drug-testing program to include in-season blood-testing for human growth hormone and a new test intended to detect players using testosterone,.
The testing increase vaults baseball's program ahead of the NFL's protocol, which doesn't include testing for HGH and doesn't have a similar testosterone test. The plan will further Commissioner Bud Selig's claims that his sport has the toughest testing program of any professional sport in North America.
"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," Selig said in a statement. "I am proud that our system allows us to adapt to the many evolving issues associated with the science and technology of drug testing. We will continue to do everything we can to maintain a leadership stature in anti-doping efforts in the years ahead."
The timing of the agreement comes a day after the announcement that first-time candidates Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa, along with returnees Rafael Palmeiro and Mark McGwire, were denied entrance to the Hall of Fame. All five have been linked to the use of performance-enhancing drugs, though only McGwire has confessed to knowingly using banned substances. In fact, no one on the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot received the necessary 75 percent support needed for induction.
The new agreement establishes a new testing protocol for testosterone, a preferred substance because it quickly leaves a player's system after being used. Since July 2010, MLB has conducted random blood testing for HGH among minor-league players. As a part of the 2012-16 Basic Agreement, the sides agreed to blood testing for HGH during 2012 spring training, the offseason, and for reasonable cause. All of those aspects remain in place with the addition of in-season, unannounced, random blood testing.
"The Players are determined to do all they can to continually improve the sport's Joint Drug Agreement," MLBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner said in a statement. "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."