Sunday, January 13, 2013

Major League Baseball toughens up its drug-testing policy

According to Major League Baseball, the league will begin testing players for usage of human growth hormone (HGH) this season as a way to detect higher than normal testosterone levels. Last season, baseball payers could be asked for blood samples throughout spring training last year, but this year the testing will run for the entire regular season. In addition, urine testing will also be held to help detect other types of performance-enhancing drugs (PED). The Major League Baseball Players’ Association has agreed to the new testing system.

Each player’s test records will be kept by the World Anti-Doping Agency at its headquarters in Quebec, Canada. Bud Selig, the commissioner of baseball, said this is a great and proud day for MLB and the league will continue to be a leader in the fight against illegal substance usage. The announcement of the drug testing comes right after suspected PED users, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens failed to earn enough votes to gain induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Selig said that baseball has come a long way in the sport’s fight against drugs. He said MLB has evolved greatly in this area over the past 15 years. Random drug testing was introduced by the league back in 2003 and punishment was handed out the following year for those who failed their tests. The league started coming down hard on PED abusers in 2006 when it lengthened suspensions to 50 games from just 10 days for first-time offenders. The amount of drug testing has now increased in MLB over the past 10 years and each ballplayer will have to undergo at least one test this year.

Michael Weiner, who is the head of the players’ union, said the players look forward to an accurate system that is fair and also respects their rights. Selig gave credit to the union for cooperating since it used to be opposed to drug testing in the past. The World Anti-Doping Agency chimed in and stated that baseball’s testing system is now among the very best in the world.

The MLB announcement of the new drug testing system now puts pressure on other sports, such as the NFL as the football league’s union has been accused of trying to get out of human growth hormone testing.

The NFL agreed to testing when a new collective bargaining agreement was signed in 2011, but nothing has come of it so far. The league has accused the union of stalling on the issue, but a players’ union spokesperson named George Atallah said the union is simply waiting for scientific testing issues to be worked out.

Adolpho Birch, the senior vice president of the NFL said he feels this is nothing more than some type of delay tactic and if testing doesn’t begin soon then the NFL will fall behind when it comes to matters of drug testing. He added that he’d like to see the agreed-upon testing begin in professional football as soon as possible.

Ian Palmer

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