Major League Baseball, once chided by Congress and fought by the players' association over its drug-testing policy, took another significant step away from its tainted past. Baseball became the first North American professional league to adopt blood testing for human growth hormone, a key component of the new five-year CBA.
Baseball unilaterally implemented blood tests last year for minor leaguers, just months after British rugby player Terry Newton was the first pro athlete banned for a positive HGH test. This year minor leaguer Mike Jacobs became the first baseball player to test positive. His 50-game suspension is expected to be the penalty for first-time major league violators.
Baseball now defines the state of the art for drug policy in U.S. pro sports. The players' association for years questioned the reliability of blood tests, but in the first CBA negotiated by Michael Weiner, the successor to union chief Donald Fehr, the players signed off on the science. Major leaguers are expected to be tested when they report to spring training, so the teeth of the program will come from the frequency of unannounced tests during the season and off-season.