NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball implemented random blood testing for human growth hormone in the minor leagues on Thursday, the first professional sports league in the United States to take the aggressive step against doping.
The blood testing becomes part of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, which Commissioner Bud Selig introduced in 2001 to test for performance-enhancing drugs.
"The implementation of blood testing in the minor leagues represents a significant step in the detection of the illegal use of human growth hormone," Selig said in a statement. "HGH testing provides an example for all of our drug policies in the future."
Testing will be limited to minor league players because they are not members of the players' association, which means that blood testing is not subject to collective bargaining.
Blood samples will be collected after games by the National Center for Drug Free Sport, the organization that currently collects urine samples in the minor leagues. The blood samples will be taken from the non-dominant arm of players who are not members of a major league team's 40-man roster, and sent to a testing laboratory in Salt Lake City for analysis.
"Seems like a positive step for the game," Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
Dr. Gary Green, the medical director for Major League Baseball, called the testing "a major development in the detection of a substance that has previously been undetectable."
"The combination of widespread availability and the lack of detection have led to reports of use of this drug amongst athletes," Green said. "This is the first generation of HGH testing and Major League Baseball will continue to fund the Partnership for Clean Competition for ongoing research to refine testing procedures in this area."