An initial positive test for HGH would result in a 50-game suspension, the same as a first positive urine test for a performance-enhancing substance. HGH testing in the minor leagues started late in the 2010 season.
“It meant a great deal to me personally, and a great deal to our sport,” Selig said.
Random testing for HGH will take place during spring training and the offseason, but there is no agreement yet on random testing in-season. There can be testing at any time for cause.
Although the NFL has wanted to start HGH blood tests, its players’ union has thus far resisted.
“The agreement to begin testing puts baseball ahead of other American professional sports leagues and is a credit to their leadership,” Rep. Henry Waxman said. “It will be important that the testing be extended to the regular season to avoid creating a loophole in the new policy.”
Weiner said scientists told MLB that the HGH test can detect the substance in the blood for 48-to-72 hours.
“We are sufficiently comfortable with the science to go ahead with testing, but we have preserved the right if there is a positive test for there to be a challenge _ if that’s appropriate _ to the science at that point in time,” he said.
Former union head Marvin Miller, who spoke to Weiner on Tuesday, praised much of the agreement but was critical of the HGH testing.
“It’s the same as steroids. There’s not a single test worldwide (proving) that it improves athletic performance, not one,” he said. “I don’t know if it does, and neither does anyone else.”
The sides will explore in-season testing, but the union wants to make sure it’s done in a way that doesn’t interfere with players’ health and safety.
“The players want to get out and be leaders on this issue, and they want there to be a level playing field,” Weiner said. “The realities, though, are that baseball players play virtually every single day from Feb. 20 through October. And that’s unlike any other athlete _ professional or amateur _ who’s subject to drug testing. We want to make sure that we’re doing everything we can on the HGH issue, but that it be consistent with not interfering with competition and not interfering with players health and safety.”
In addition, the number of offseason urine tests will increase gradually from 125 currently to 250 before the 2015 season.
As for the playoffs, there will be an additional two teams that will give baseball 10 of 30 clubs in the postseason. In the NFL, 12 of 32 teams make the playoffs. In the NBA and NHL, 16 of 30 advance.
The wild-card teams in each league _ the non-first place teams with the best records _ will meet in a one-game playoff, with the winners advancing to the division series. Manfred said a decision on whether the expanded playoffs would start next year likely will be made by the January owners’ meeting.
“I think having a second wild-card team is great for the game,” said NL MVP Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers. “I think it adds intrigue, it adds excitement. If you look at what the wild card, the first wild card, has done for baseball over the last few years, it’s made games late in the season relevant for everybody.”