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Baseball’s HGH testing is only a step above the honor system

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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.

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19 Responses to “Baseball’s HGH testing is only a step above the honor system”
  1. cowhawkfan says: Nov 23, 2011 11:01 AM

    I guess baseball just wanted to be 1st. Their policy is pointless. Just as MLB ignored steroid use, it is and will ignore HGH. I’d love a player to sue MLB. Either someone who didn’t use steroids but lost money on salary or service time because others did or a player who used suing for adverse affects after they were forced to use to keep up with others

  2. medtxpack says: Nov 23, 2011 11:03 AM

    cue the Clay Matthews haters……

    hate Brain Cushing, he actually TESTED positive…

  3. jerseyshoregiant says: Nov 23, 2011 11:11 AM

    Why have it at all? Testing once in spring training is worthless. I have a feeling Bud and the boys might be hearing from congress on this. Not that I think congress should be involved but if they are pressing the NFL over HGH testing they are surely going to be disappointed with Baseball’s testing practices.

  4. test2402 says: Nov 23, 2011 11:12 AM

    Do you know who doesn’t need HGH? Tim Tebow.

  5. joetoronto says: Nov 23, 2011 11:19 AM

    And two steps above the NFL.

  6. dolphandan says: Nov 23, 2011 11:20 AM

    Baseball sucks.

  7. xstaticonradio says: Nov 23, 2011 11:20 AM


  8. bozosforall says: Nov 23, 2011 11:20 AM

    Testing in pro sports will always be lame as long as the amount of money involved is significant. In other words, it will always be lame.

  9. Matthew Flint says: Nov 23, 2011 11:32 AM

    Wow, a little defensive are we? You sound like an idiot with this.

  10. johnnyshore says: Nov 23, 2011 11:33 AM

    Did I accidentally click on HardballTalk?

  11. lembeck4 says: Nov 23, 2011 11:33 AM

    Lovely, unbiased article…..since you forgot to mention it, here’s additional language direct from the CBA:

    “Starting with the 2012-2013 off-season, players will be subject to random unannounced testing for HGH”

    If the NFL comes up with anything better, I’ll eat my hat.

  12. franknunley57 says: Nov 23, 2011 11:35 AM

    Happy Thanksgiving to all @ PFT !

  13. snarkzilla says: Nov 23, 2011 11:49 AM

    >hate Brain Cushing, he actually TESTED positive

    Cushing tested positive for hCG. Since it’s unlikely he was trying to lose weight, he could have been using it in conjunction with steroids, which is the reason the NFL suspends players who test positive for it. It has nothing to do with HGH.

  14. kellyb9 says: Nov 23, 2011 11:49 AM

    Baseball has been burned by steroids, and I don’t think its ready for round two at all. As much hate as baseball gets on this blog, its been very successful at not repeating the same mistakes over and over again. They resolved their labor disagreement well before the expiration of their current agreements, and they’ve put in the place the only HGH testing plan in major US Sports (to my knowledge). I have to give them credit on this one, they beat the NFL to the punch.

  15. holdthemayo123 says: Nov 23, 2011 12:05 PM

    If you were aware of the MLB steroid testing policy, this would not surprise you.

  16. JSpicoli says: Nov 23, 2011 12:25 PM

    Since you are inclined to always try and take infantile pot shots at MLB, I feel inclined to defend it.

    If Baseball could talk it would say “MLB—Our Stats Matter!” or “MLB—We don’t systemically change our rules every year”

    You are just jealous because we can actually devine something meaningful from an ERA or batting average.

  17. dowhatifeellike says: Nov 23, 2011 12:38 PM

    Randomly test 10 players every other day during the winter. That will 1) catch a bunch of them and 2) deter some from using.

  18. medtxpack says: Nov 23, 2011 1:22 PM


    you bring up a good point. but in the court of public opinion, its lost. He tested positive for PEDs and simply enough of the majority of fans in the NFL dont understand specifics or gray area as much as you do. but againt great point, thx.

  19. snarkzilla says: Nov 23, 2011 2:07 PM

    medtxpack, if fans actually read anything about the NFL testing program the idea that half the league is using would be gone. It’s pretty fierce.

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