Melky Cabrera was suspended for 50 games last season for testing positive… (Hunter Martin / Getty Images )
Major League Baseball announced Thursday that it will begin in-season blood-testing for human growth hormone and additional testing for testosterone this year.
Batting leader Melky Cabrera of the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics pitcher Bartolo Colon were both suspended last season after tests revealed elevated levels of testosterone.
"This agreement addresses critical drug issues and symbolizes Major League Baseball's continued vigilance against synthetic human growth hormone, testosterone and other performance-enhancing substances," Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "I am proud that our system allows us to adapt to the many evolving issues associated with the science and technology of drug testing. We will continue to do everything we can to maintain a leadership stature in anti-doping efforts in the years ahead."
The announcement comes a day after several prominent stars fell far short of Hall of Fame qualification in voting by members of the Baseball Writers' Assn. of America.
Roger Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young award winner, and home run king Barry Bonds, a seven-time most valuable player, didn't come close to the required 75% of the vote. Both barely surpassed a third of the vote, largely because of their direct links to performance-enhancing drugs.
Rafael Palmiero, who is among only four players with more than 500 home runs and 3,000 hits, received a paltry 8% of the vote.
In fact, no player received enough support for induction -- only the eighth time since 1936 that that's happened.
Michael Weiner, executive director of the players union, said in a statement that players were committed to a stringent drug-testing program that works for everyone. "Players want a program that is tough, scientifically accurate, backed by the latest proven scientific methods, and fair; I believe these changes firmly support the players' desires while protecting their legal rights."
MLB began testing minor league players for HGH in July, 2010. The following year, major league players underwent tests. However, those tests were performed only during spring training and the off-season. The new agreement between baseball and the players union is for year-round testing.
Baseball has also tested for testosterone, which is known for leaving an athlete's system quickly after being used. Under the new testing program, the World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited laboratory in Montreal will establish a baseline for testosterone levels in a given player. Test results that fall beyond the normal range for a particular player will receive greater scrutiny.
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