MLB Labor Agreement – MLB (Major League Baseball) owners and players have agreed on a new labor contract on a deal that for the first time will include blood testing for human growth hormone, according to two people in baseball briefed on the matter. The testing will be a significant step for baseball, allowing it to move ahead of other professional sports leagues, including the N.F.L., in confronting the troublesome issue of a drug that has long evaded detection.
The bargaining agreement, which is expected to be announced early this week, calls for blood testing to begin in February, when players report to spring training. Players who test positive will face a 50-game suspension, which will be the same as the first-time penalty for a positive steroid test, according to the two people.
Although minor elements of the overall agreement still need to be completed, the two people said that a full understanding on H.G.H. testing had been reached and that no further negotiations on that issue were needed.
As such, baseball will be the first of the major North American professional sports to do any type of blood testing for drugs at a league’s highest level. In 2010, baseball introduced H.G.H. blood testing for minor league players because the step could be taken without the consent of the major league players union.
Commissioner Bud Selig, who is sensitive about his legacy and the longstanding criticism that he was too slow to react to the use of performance-enhancing drugs in his sport, will now be able to cite the H.G.H. testing in stressing how seriously baseball treats the issue of drug use. And without mentioning the N.F.L. by name, he will be able to take satisfaction in accomplishing what football has been unable to do.