Major League Baseball and Commissioner Bud Selig announced on Thursday that it will begin "random blood testing" for human growth hormone in the Minor Leagues, effective immediately. Baseball becomes the first professional sports league in the U.S. to implement such blood testing.
The testing, which ESPN's Amy K. Nelson immediately dubbed a "big" development in baseball, will be conducted by the National Center for Drug Free Sport, with the blood samples collected "post-game from the non-dominant arms of randomly selected non 40-man roster players at select Minor League affiliates."
"The implementation of blood testing in the Minor Leagues represents a significant step in the detection of the illegal use of human growth hormone," said Commissioner Selig. "The Minor League Program employs state of the art testing procedures and the addition of HGH testing provides an example for all of our drug policies in the future."
The players on the 40-man roster are still protected by the MLB Player's Association; the Minor League has no player's union.
It obviously remains to be seen how much of an impact this will really have on the game. Will Carroll writes that "HGH is not widely used. There's better, cheaper things available that are undetectable. I won't say 'no one uses it' [though] I could with little hyperbole. No one with any real knowledge or good advisors uses it."
MLB, however, is more hopeful for the testing's effects, with Dr. Gary Green, Medical Director for Major League Baseball, saying, "This represents a major development in the detection of a substance that has previously been undetectable and been subject to abuse."