On the heels of Wednesday's Hall of Fame vote that saw players like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens get denied entry, Major League Baseball has announced it will begin unannounced, random testing for human growth hormone during the 2013 regular season.
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. I am proud that our system allows us to adapt to the many evolving issues associated with the science and technology of drug testing.
In the same release, Michael Weiner, executive director of the MLB Players Association, said that this is something the players want to ensure the sport maintains its integrity.
The Players are determined to do all they can to continually improve the sport’s Joint Drug Agreement. 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.
This is a huge step in the performance-enhancing-drug crusade that the MLB has been on since being thrown in front of Congress back in 2005. As Jon Heyman writes, baseball will be the first major United States sport to begin testing for HGH.
While steroids can usually be detected through a simple urine test, HGH testing is more complicated and can be beaten if you are just testing the same way you would for steroids.
The HGH test is done by blood analysis—something Seattle catcher Miguel Olivo wasn't too keen on (via USA Today):
"Hell no, they can't do that. They took so much blood from me, I almost passed out."
According to the same USA Today article, HGH testing was first enacted as part of the most recent collective-bargaining agreement, signed last year. However, testing was limited to the offseason and spring training.
It may have taken a little longer than expected, but all the T's look to be crossed, and all the I's have been dotted.
This move pushes the MLB ahead of the NFL in drug testing. Last month the NFL had a hearing in front of Congress about a policy for HGH testing that was agreed to in 2011 but still hasn't gone into effect.
Players who fail steroid and performance-enhancing drug tests in the MLB are subject to 50-game suspensions on first offense, 100-game suspensions the second time and lifetime bans for third failed tests.