Commissioner Bud Selig has long defended baseball's drug-testing program. Now he can claim taking an unprecedented step in the fight against performance-enhancing substances.
MLB announced today that minor-league players would be subjected to random blood tests for human growth hormone, effective immediately.
MLB is the first U.S. pro sports league to conduct blood tests.
Because minor-league players are not members of the MLB Players Association, Selig has the right to implement the blood testing program unilaterally without the issue being collectively bargained.
Major league players are not affected by the new policy.
"The implementation of blood testing in the Minor Leagues represents a significant step in the detection of the illegal use of human growth hormone," Selig said in a news release. "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 release also said the blood samples would be collected by the National Center for Drug Free Sport, which now collects all urine samples tested under the minor league drug program. The blood samples will be tested at a Salt Lake City lab.
"This represents a major development in the detection of a substance that has previously been undetectable and been subject to abuse," Gary Green, MLB's medical director, said in the news release.