SBD/Issue 36/Leagues & Governing Bodies

MLB Teams Have Advanced Warning When Drug Tests Will Occur

MLB-contracted drug testers "routinely alert team officials a day or more before their arrival at ballparks for what is supposed to be random, unannounced testing of players," a process anti-doping experts claim "undermines the integrity of the testing program," according to a front-page piece by Michael Schmidt of the N.Y. TIMES. Teams are not told what players will be tested, but drug-testing companies call the home team the night before to request stadium and parking passes. Doping expert John Hoberman said, "They're opening a door to serious doubts about the integrity of the program." Officials from three teams "confirmed that their clubs receive advance notice of testing." MLB Exec VP/Labor Relations Rob Manfred, who oversees MLB's drug-testing program, said clubs "are not supposed to tell players that tests will be conducted," and added a person with each team "is responsible for arranging for tester access and for space to be set aside in the locker rooms for tests." Manfred: "We are very confident that no player has ever received advanced notice of a test. Even if a player knew a few hours before, there is precious little that can be done to subvert a test." In May, MLB "quietly adjusted its testing procedure" after a report described how MLB drug testers "relied on team employees to chaperone players who could not immediately provide a urine sample." MLB Senior VP/PR Rich Levin said, "The process continues to evolve, we have an open mind, and if there is a way to make it better we will do it" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/31).

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