Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association announced today that they have modified their Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program to provide for unannounced, random blood testing for the detection of human growth hormone (hGH) during the regular season, beginning in 2013.
Today’s announcement marks another significant step in the progression of Baseball’s hGH testing policy, which continues to be the strongest in American professional sports. Since July 2010, Major League Baseball has conducted random blood testing for the detection of hGH among Minor League players. As a part of the 2012-2016 Basic Agreement, the parties agreed to blood testing for hGH during 2012 Spring Training, during the off-season, and for reasonable cause, making Baseball the first sport to deploy this kind of testing at its highest level. Under the new agreement, all of those aspects of the Program will continue, and there will be in-season, unannounced, random blood testing.
In addition, beginning in the 2013 season, the parties have authorized the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)-accredited Montreal Laboratory to establish a longitudinal profile program, in which a Player's baseline Testosterone/Epitestosterone (T/E) ratio and other data will be maintained by the laboratory, with strict protections for confidentiality, in order to enhance its ability to detect the use of Testosterone and other prohibited substances. The laboratory will automatically conduct Carbon Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IRMS) analysis on all specimens that vary materially from a Player's baseline values. The laboratory also will increase the number of random IRMS analysis it conducts on specimens. The longitudinal program being implemented by the parties will be one of the most significant programs of its kind in the world.
Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig said: “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. We will continue to do everything we can to maintain a leadership stature in anti-doping efforts in the years ahead.”
MLBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner said: “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.”
Christiane Ayotte, the Director of the Montreal Laboratory, added: “Although the Montreal Laboratory has made extensive use of IRMS in the past, the addition of random blood testing and a longitudinal profiling program makes Baseball’s program second to none in detecting and deterring the use of synthetic hGH and Testosterone. A drug testing program that follows over a thousand steroid profiles and tests over a thousand blood specimens each year compares favorably with any WADA program.”
The change is welcomed by both WADA and USADA. In a statement WADA writes:
WADA welcomes the decision of Major League Baseball (MLB) and its players union to expand their drug-testing program for the 2013 season.
By agreeing to in-season testing for human growth hormone (hGH) 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.
An anti-doping program can only be considered effective when it is allowed to monitor players the whole year round, and by making these changes the MLB has set a new standard for the other Pro Leagues to follow.
– We congratulate the players and owners in Major League Baseball for including in-season blood testing for human growth hormone and longitudinal testing for testosterone. This is a strong statement by the players and the league not only confirming the scientific validity of the HGH blood test and the benefit of longitudinal testing, but also the importance of clean athletes’ rights and the integrity of the game. This agreement, following the recent Congressional hearings on testing in the NFL, leaves no reason for the NFLPA not to step up and implement the same to give its players an equal level of protection and confidence that they deserve a level, drug-free playing field in the NFL.