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SBD/January 11, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies
MLB, Union Alter Joint Drug Agreement To Include In-Season HGH Testing
Published January 11, 2013
FAITH IN THE PROCESS: Orioles P and union rep Jim Johnson said that the players' “main concern was ensuring the testing would be dependable.” Johnson: "When we were first discussing it, we wanted to make sure we were doing it right. ... We needed to be 100 percent behind the science behind it if you're going to go to this level. Every day it's getting better and better. It's a big step toward the betterment of the game." He added, “It wouldn't have happened unless the players wanted it. There was really no precedent set for it. I think it's just showing that baseball is trying to be proactive and trying to get ahead of it” (Baltimore SUN, 1/11). In L.A., Bill Shaikin notes the in-season tests “left some players waiting to hear how the tests would be administered.” Dodgers C A.J. Ellis and Angels C Chris Iannetta indicated that they “preferred a postgame blood test.” But a source said that a “pregame testing regimen appears more likely.” Ellis said, “I'm not sure of the logistics, but I feel most all players support and understand the importance of a clean game." Iannetta: “Anything you can do to eliminate the temptation and health risks players might take to get an edge, by having more stringent tests, that's good for baseball and good for the players” (L.A. TIMES, 1/11).
ABOVE THE REST: In N.Y., Michael Schmidt wrote the expansion of the testing program allows MLB to “again argue that it has moved ahead of the National Football League on the drug front and that it now has the toughest testing program of any of the professional sports leagues in North America.” The NFL has “yet to test for HGH and does not have a comparable testosterone test.” The NFL and the NFLPA in ‘11 indicated that they had “agreed to initiate blood testing for HGH, but since then the union has expressed reservations and no testing protocol has been established” (N.Y. TIMES, 1/11). USA TODAY’s Paul White notes the NFLPA “continues to express reservations about implementation, leading to pressure from Congress to end the delays.” After Thursday's announcement, MLB has “jumped ahead of the NFL in drug testing” (USA TODAY, 1/11). NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello said, “We hope the MLB players' union will inspire the NFLPA to stop its stalling tactics and fulfill its commitment to begin testing for HGH. If the NFLPA stands for player health and safety, it should follow the lead of the MLB players' union and end the delay.” NFLPA Assistant Exec Dir of External Affairs George Atallah said that the union is “not backing out of anything but was looking to resolve scientific issues surrounding the tests” (AP, 1/10).
THIS BUD’S FOR YOU: In Phoenix, Dan Bickley writes under the header, “Major League Baseball Takes Lead In Battle Vs. Drugs.” This is a “big victory” for Selig, as it means he has "pinned his legacy on a drug war the way the NFL commissioner is battling a concussion epidemic.” The new policy “marks a dramatic change in the culture of baseball.” The players are “no longer hiding behind their litigators and union leaders” and instead are “accepting a partnership and accountability” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 1/11). SportsNet N.Y.'s Chris Carlin gave Selig and the union "some credit for finally bending on this one." Carlin: "This is not something I thought we were going to see for a couple more years because there’s so many complexities involved in a blood test” ("Loud Mouths," SportsNet N.Y., 1/10). In New Jersey, Bob Klapisch writes, “All of a sudden, baseball is an industry leader among professional sports.” MLB is “more serious than ever about catching cheaters, shaming the NFL’s unwillingness to address its health problems” (Bergen RECORD, 1/11). WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford said MLB’s HGH testing “is a step in the right direction, and you give baseball credit for that” ("NESN Daily," NESN, 1/10). CBSSPORTS.com’s Scott Miller wrote the announcement “will not change” that the “bigger crime … is to react slowly and allow the monster to grow.” However, it is “another long-overdue step that will continue to help clean up the game” (CBSSPORTS.com, 1/10).