|ESPN.com: Baseball||[Print without images]|
“"We have been engaged with the Commissioners' Office on this subject for several months, though they have not shared with us the specifics behind their decision to begin blood testing of minor leaguers," Weiner said. "We look forward to further discussions." Outside experts have long questioned the union's logic against blood testing. Told of baseball's announcement, Gary Wadler, who chairs the committee that determines the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned-substances list, said it was "a significant step forward." "One important thing is, as young players evolve through the minor leagues, the concept of a blood test will no longer be alien to them," Wadler said. "It will be easier to implement it in the major leagues as more players in the minor leagues recognize it makes sense." Travis Tygart, the CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, also welcomed the news. "This is another important step in the fight to return all of the playing fields in the U.S. to clean athletes," he said. "We applaud MLB's efforts in this regard." Tigers president and GM Dave Dombrowski said in an e-mail to The Associated Press: "Seems like a positive step for the game." Dodgers manager Joe Torre said: "Whatever has to be done to gain the full trust of the fans, we have to do what we can." Blood samples will be collected after games by the National Center for Drug Free Sport, the organization that currently collects urine samples in the minor leagues. The blood samples will be taken from the non-dominant arm of players who are not members of a major league team's 40-man roster, and sent to a testing laboratory in Salt Lake City for analysis. Dr. Gary Green, the medical director for Major League Baseball, called the testing "a major development in the detection of a substance that has previously been undetectable." "The combination of widespread availability and the lack of detection have led to reports of use of this drug amongst athletes," Green said. "This is the first generation of HGH testing and Major League Baseball will continue to fund the Partnership for Clean Competition for ongoing research to refine testing procedures in this area." The Partnership for Clean Competition is a coalition of MLB, the NFL, USADA and the U.S. Olympic Committee that funds research for drug testing. The NFL doesn't currently conduct blood tests for performance-enhancing drugs. But the league has recently said it would like to begin such tests, while the union has long been against them. With the current collective-bargaining contract due to expire in March, the issue is expected to be a key point in upcoming negotiations.
We have less teams than any other sport [in the playoffs]. Eight teams make the playoffs. One wild card in each league. We certainly haven't abused anything.” -- MLB commissioner Bud Selig