The latest on HGH testing: Bud embarks on another "study"

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HGH.jpgBud Selig says baseball’s new science adviser — Dr. Gary Green — is examining the human growth hormone blood
test
that the World Anti-Doping Agency (“WADA”) is peddling but he isn’t sure when
the study will be completed.

This is classic Bud: when he doesn’t want to deal with something he commissions another “study.”  I’m assuming that the HGH test study will be complete some time after the “What should we do with the Athletics” study, which has been pending for well over a year now despite the fact that everyone knows what the result will be. I’ve been critical of that particular bit of foot-dragging, but in the case of the HGH test I’m just fine with it.

Why? Because the WADA HGH test is basically useless, because WADA is a publicity and profit-seeking shakedown operation, and that because no one ever calls them on it, Selig is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

As Murray Chass noted yesterday WADA’s head — Dr. Gary Wadler — is the go-to quote of choice whenever a steroids story pops up, selling his organization’s agenda and products as though he were an independent scholar or something. The effect of this is that anyone who exhibits opposition to WADA, even on legitimate grounds, has come to be seen by the media and the public as not being serious about combating PED use. And that’s even the case if the WADA product in question — an HGH blood test — is of dubious efficacy.

Bud Selig and baseball were late to the anti-PED party, but they’re pretty well-versed in it now. They know that WADA’s blood test has caught exactly one offender in several years, and even then it was because the authorities were tipped off about the guy using drugs beforehand. Because of that, they know that it’s probably a useless test that they’d never be able to sell to the players’ union.

But they also know that simply rejecting it out of hand would make them appear soft on PEDs and would lead to a bunch of articles — with critical quotes from Dr. Gary Wadler, natch — excoriating them. Articles that fail to note that the same man tut-tutting baseball is out to make a buck.

So what to do about it? Stall! Commission a study. Punt the issue for several months if not longer. And you know what? It’s the smart play.

MLB, union resume blood testing after pandemic, lockout

Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK – In the first acknowledgment that MLB and the players’ association resumed blood testing for human growth hormone, the organizations said none of the 1,027 samples taken during the 2022 season tested positive.

HGH testing stopped in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Testing also was halted during the 99-day lockout that ended in mid-March, and there were supply chain issues due to COVID-19 and additional caution in testing due to coronavirus protocols.

The annual public report is issued by Thomas M. Martin, independent program administrator of MLB’s joint drug prevention and treatment program. In an announcement accompanying Thursday’s report, MLB and the union said test processing is moving form the INRS Laboratory in Quebec, Canada, to the UCLA Laboratory in California.

MLB tests for HGH using dried blood spot testing, which was a change that was agreed to during bargaining last winter. There were far fewer samples taken in 2022 compared to 2019, when there were 2,287 samples were collected – none positive.

Beyond HGH testing, 9,011 urine samples were collected in the year ending with the 2022 World Series, up from 8,436 in the previous year but down from 9,332 in 2019. And therapeutic use exemptions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder dropped for the ninth straight year, with just 72 exemptions in 2022.

Overall, the league issued six suspensions in 2022 for performance-enhancing substances: three for Boldenone (outfielder/first baseman Danny Santana, pitcher Richard Rodriguez and infielder Jose Rondon, all free agents, for 80 games apiece); one each for Clomiphene (Milwaukee catcher Pedro Severino for 80 games), Clostebol (San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. for 80 games) and Stanozolol (Milwaukee pitcher J.C. Mejia for 80 games).

There was an additional positive test for the banned stimulant Clobenzorex. A first positive test for a banned stimulant results in follow-up testing with no suspension.