Major League Baseball Is About to Start Random Testing for HGH

Photo credit: Ozier Muhammad / The New York Times

On the heels of news that a total of zero players were inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum as part of the 2013 class, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman is reporting a bombshell that could serve as the reason we see future years with no players inducted: Major League Baseball is about to become the first major North American pro sports league to begin testing for human growth hormone (HGH).

Suspected (and, depending on whom you ask, proven) past steroid use has prevented players like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa from making it into the Hall. Most now agree that MLB has its steroids problem under control, however, with the league performing relatively rigorous testing and imposing harsh penalties on those caught juicing.

Few pundits believe that all performance-enhancing drugs have been eliminated from the sport, though. Cheating athletes are simply suspected to have moved on to drugs that are much harder to detect, like HGH.

Photo credit: Rodger Bosch / AFP

HGH testing has been present in numerous international sports, like the Olympics, for years now. It’s remained elusive to the major North American leagues until now, though, because it’s expensive to perform, the science behind the testing has been somewhat unreliable and, perhaps most importantly, it requires blood samples rather than urine samples (an issue the players’ unions were hesitant to concede).

It sounds like MLB believes it has solved those issues. And the league should be commended for it.

There are some cynics who believe that HGH use is rampant in baseball. If they’re right, we may be about to see an awful lot of positive tests. However, those same cynics will likely argue that most HGH abuse by pro athletes occurs in the off-season — that’s when it’s possible to make the most gains in fitness — and that in-season testing by MLB officials could be pointless.

Still, it’s a start. If the public truly cares about getting performance-enhancing drugs out of the game — and reactions to the news of Bonds, Clemens and Sosa being snubbed certainly suggests there are still more than a few angry fans — then it’s essential that the league begins testing for HGH as soon as possible.

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