MLB, MLBPA Announce Significant Changes To Drug Testing Policy
MLB and the MLBPA today announced a series of significant changes to their joint drug agreement, implementing random, in-season blood testing for HGH beginning this year as well as new protocols to test for heightened testosterone. Every player will now have a baseline testostorone/epitestosterone (T/E) ratio determined each year, allowing for easier and more precise detection of subsequent variances beyond allowable limits. The changes, strongly hinted last fall by MLBPA Exec Dir Michael Weiner, furthers what is already the only HGH testing in major North American pro sports and what baseball calls the strongest drug program in all of sports.
"I can't emphasize enough when I think all that has gone on relative to steroids, when you think of where we were, this is a proud day, a great day for baseball," said MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, speaking following owners' meetings in Paradise Valley, Ariz. "We'll continue to be a leader in this field and do what we have to do."
"The players, and [Weiner] in particular showed real leadership on this issue, and are to be commended," said MLB Exec VP/Economics & League Affairs Rob Manfred. "Having an individual baseline for each player, we think is going to be a lot more accurate and a lot more powerful in terms of the detection." The longitudinal profile program for player testosterone levels will be maintained by the Montreal Laboratory, a facility accredited by WADA.
The news of the drug policy changes just a day after the Baseball Writers Association of America failed to elect a player this year to the Baseball HOF, in large part due to marked voter division over steroids, was coincidental as the shifts have been in negotiation for months. But Selig added the timing "wasn't too bad, though, was it." Added Weiner today in a statement, "I believe these changes firmly support the players' desires while protecting their legal rights."
U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), a long-time watchdog on baseball's testing policy, applauded the changes in a statement saying, "Baseball can rightly boast that it has the best testing program among our country's professional major leagues."