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Minor leaguers to be tested for HGH. This is all PR, by the way

Jul 22, 2010, 4:16 PM EDT

Major League Baseball announced a few moments ago that it will immediately begin testing for HGH in the minor leagues.  That sound you hear is a thousand writers and commentators preparing their “good for baseball for finally getting tough” column/blog post/TV talking head spot.  Don’t buy a bit of it.

For starters, this is not news. It was leaked back in February that this would be happening. Now it is happening. Anyone who calls this move “surprising” is not really following PED stories.

More significantly, the HGH test baseball will be using is the same one mentioned back in February: the test a British rugby league used to catch one of its players.  What will likely be left out of these new columns is that (a) the rugby player was the first one in several years of alleged HGH testing to ever be caught; and (b) he was only caught because testing officials received a tip the night before that the player had received a big honking shipment of HGH. If the rugby league was really using the test, it never caught anyone through random testing.

Which can be explained by one of two things, neither of which speak well of the test in question: (1) the test gives almost universal false negatives; or (2) because HGH’s duration in the blood stream — 24-48 hours according to most experts — is too short for random testing to ever work. Shoe leather and stool pigeons are the only way anyone has ever been caught for using HGH, and that’s likely to remain the case.

Finally, because Major League Baseball does not have the stomach to engage the MLBPA on implementation of the test, the testing will be limited to the minor leagues and will likely stay that way for the foreseeable future.

The upshot: No one except the most clueless will ever be caught by this test and the big league players from whom the PED hawks think we need protection will never be tested.  Other than that, fabulous.

At least, if you like exercises in public relations.

  1. Simon DelMonte - Jul 22, 2010 at 4:37 PM

    I work in public relations. So i like exercises in PR. When they accomplish something useful. It’s times like this I am glad I never sent my resume to MLB.
    It’s also times like these that the idea of minor league players union sounds like something the world sorely needs. Not that I have any illusion it will ever exist.

  2. Md23Rewls - Jul 22, 2010 at 5:48 PM

    HGH? It’s 2010, I’m sure the chemists are way past HGH or any of the other things that were so popular back in the day. If baseball is always going to be five years behind on testing, then it’s going to be pretty tough.

  3. The Rabbit - Jul 22, 2010 at 5:53 PM

    If you could solve the problem of false negative testing, it could be a future PR bonanza. I can see the headline/press release now: MLB’s Successful Drug Policy .. After thousands of random tests, not one MLB minor league player has been found to use HGH.

  4. Dan - Jul 22, 2010 at 10:08 PM

    I think Ankiel got caught because they traced shipments to his house. So all they have to do is track every minor league player’s mail and UPS shipments.
    Anyone dumb enough to use their home address for shipments will be docked 50 points off their IQ.

  5. JBerardi - Jul 22, 2010 at 10:30 PM

    Testing ALWAYS lags behind, no matter what. You can’t start developing a test for something until it’s invented. So yeah, “tough” is the word.

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