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MLB to test for HGH in spring training


Highlights of the revisions to the MLB drug policy:

• Adding blood testing for HGH during spring training and the offseason and for probable cause.

• Study the expansion of HGH testing to include the regular season.

• Increasing the amount of random tests.

• Violators before the All-Star break will be ineligible for the All-Star Game.

Updated: July 9, 2012 6:21AM

Major League Baseball and the players union announced Thursday that revisions in their drug-testing program have been completed, changes that include blood testing for human growth hormone during spring training.

The number of random tests during the season and offseason will be increased as well.

“Drug testing has taken this game and made it clean,’’ White Sox reliever Matt Thornton said. “It’s protecting the integrity of the game on a fair playing field.’’

The changes also include altering the collection procedures. This is in response to the Ryan Braun arbitration decision from an independent arbitrator who overturned Braun’s positive test for elevated testosterone.

“As far as the collection procedure, it’s always been done real professionally with us,’’ Sox player representative Paul Konerko said. “We’ve never had a problem or worried about that.

“There are no worries from the players’ end. We’ll become accustomed to whatever it’s going to be. When they started doing the testing that’s in place now, it was a huge inconvenience, and everybody was in shock that you had to go through all these things. Now everybody falls in line.’’

The changes were agreed upon during the recently completed collective-bargaining negotiations. Cubs pitcher Paul Maholm said the players want the best testing of any sport.

“This is just kind of furthering that and letting the fans know that we’re taking the extra steps to make sure the game is clean,’’ Maholm said.

Players union director Michael Weiner said the changes ‘‘reflect the players’ desire to have the strongest possible drug prevention and treatment program in professional team sports.”

More than 45 performance-enhancing substances and stimulants have been added to the list of prohibited substances since the 2008 program.

“You get sore, you get beat up — you’re supposed to,’’ Thornton said. “Fifty games into the season like we are now, you’re supposed to feel that grind, fight through soreness and grind out at-bats and innings. Good teams rise above that.’’

For the sake of keeping the game clean, Maholm said he’s on board with testing for everything. Konerko agrees.

“Once we start doing it, then I think you go all the way with it,’’ Konerko said. “It’s going down to HGH now. The only care for the players is that the science is there to back it up. The worst thing that could ever happen would be a false positive because the testing wasn’t ready for something. That’s every player’s fear. But I’m sure the people doing it are smart executing it. They feel comfortable that they’re ready to do it.’’

Contributing: Gordon Wittenmyer

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