Major League Baseball (MLB) has announced an unprecedented addition to its current drug testing program in an effort to eliminate player use of human growth hormone (HGH). Beginning with the  2013 season, MLB will conduct random, unannounced, in-season blood testing for HGH. All players will be tested at least once during the season. This marks a significant expansion of the testing program which had only allowed HGH testing during spring training in 2012.

Following the introduction of mandatory testing for steroid use in 2004, MLB toughened the penalties for players testing positive in 2005. First time offenders receive a 50-game suspension and a second positive test results in a 100-game suspension. A third positive test results in a lifetime ban from the MLB. These same penalties will be used for positive HGH test results.

“HGH can be used at any point during the year,” stated MLB Executive Vice President of Labor Relations Rob Manfred. “We think it is important from a deterrence perspective that players be subject to blood testing just like they’re subject to urine testing year-round,” Manfred continued as he explained the significance of these changes to the current MLB drug testing policy.

In addition to the HGH testing, MLB has incorporated stricter testing for testosterone in its changes to its drug testing program. MLB, in conjunction with the World Anti-Doping Agency, will create a “longitudinal profile program” which establishes a baseline Testosterone/Epitestosterone (T/E) ratio for each player. This ratio will be maintained under strict protections to ensure confidentiality. An automatic analysis will be performed on all urine specimens that vary materially and indicate a testosterone spike from a player’s baseline values.

“The players are determined to do all they can to continually improve the sports Joint Drug Agreement,” Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Michael Weiner stated. “Players want a program that is tough, scientifically accurate, backed by the latest proven scientific methods, and fair; I believe these changes fairly support the players’ desires while protecting their legal rights,” Weiner concluded.