Over the weekend, reports emerged that baseball’s new labor deal includes blood testing for HGH, making it the first major American sports league to apply something other than the honor system to the ban on the substance.
But closer examination of baseball’s program reveals that it’s basically the honor system, light.
Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated explained earlier this morning on The Dan Patrick Show that baseball players will be tested once upon reporting to training camp, and whenever a team has reasonable cause to believe that a player is using HGH.
In other words, players will be tested once, upon reporting to training camp.
Given that current HGH testing procedures can detect the substance only for a relatively short time after ingestion, players who are cheating need only to press the pause button for a few days. And since using HGH doesn’t create any obvious symptoms or evidence of usage, the only way “reasonable cause” will exist is if the team finds a vial of HGH in a player’s jacket.
When the NFL implements HGH testing, it will be far more meaningful and effective. Constant fear of being tested is the best deterrence, and in that regard baseball’s system is sorely lacking.
Baseball ultimately will catch only the dumbest and/or most reckless users, and if/when Bud Selig tries to claim that the low number of offenders means there’s no HGH problem in baseball, I’ll be the first one to remind Selig of his initials.
UPDATE 2:15 p.m. ET: Though some of you have disputed Verducci’s summary of the HGH testing program, the New York Times has the same information. The owners and players have agreed to address whether in-season testing will occur during the 2013 season.