The World Anti-Doping Agency has a history of picking fights with Major League Baseball concerning the drug-testing of players. Yesterday, WADA flew yet another trial balloon, and MLB responded with a formidable counter-punch.
WADA president John Fahey asked baseball to start issuing blood tests for human growth hormone. "We continue to read statements from the MLB commissioner and MLBPA representatives questioning the appropriateness of implementing blood testing in their league. This is nonsense," Fahey said in a statement. "The blunt reality is that a number of doping substances and methods, including HGH, are currently detectable only through blood testing."
It's part of baseball's collective-bargaining agreement that if a urine test for HGH becomes viable, it will be instituted. Blood testing has been a trickier issue.
Said Fahey: "International scientific experts agree that HGH is found in extremely small quantities in urine and that a potential detection method for this substance in urine is years away. Joint blood and urine testing is the only way to go for sports organizations to ensure that they use proper means to protect the integrity of their sport."
Rob Manfred, baseball's executive vice president of labor relations and human resources, said in a statement: "Major League Baseball representatives have publicly stated numerous times, including at the Partnership for Clean Competition (PCC) conference hosted at our offices two weeks ago, that we are currently exploring the feasibility of conducting blood testing for HGH in the minor leagues as soon as practical. WADA was not represented at the PCC conference and apparently is unaware of baseball's efforts in this regard.
"Blood testing in the major leagues is subject to collective bargaining.''
Manfred also said, "We have opened a dialogue on the issue of HGH testing with the Major League Baseball Players Association and look forward to working with them to achieve an appropriate resolution."
A WADA representative said the organization communicates with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which sent a representative to baseball's conference.
Last month, a British rugby player became the first athlete suspended for HGH usage after the player failed a blood test. Since then, baseball officials have acknowledged the importance of that result. Union officials have expressed more hesitance.