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Baseball bans THG
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10/30/2003 9:45 PM ET
Baseball bans THG
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PANAMA CITY, Panama -- Major League Baseball and its union have agreed to place the drug known as THG on the list of anabolic steroids that is subject to drug testing next season.

The Federal Drug Administration declared that the drug officially known as tetrahydrogestrinone was illegal and not a dietary supplement. Don Fehr, the executive director of the players association, once told a U.S. Senate subcommittee that if the governing body banned a drug, it would go on baseball's restricted list.

Drug testing without cause began in the Major Leagues this past season, but included only steroid-based substances on a list already declared illegal by the FDA. Minor leaguers not on any MLB 40-man roster must follow a much wider drug testing plan that more closely resembles the one to which Olympic athletes are subjected. It includes numerous recreational drugs, including alcohol, and some over-the-counter, bodybuilding supplements.

Survey testing was started this past season and if 5 percent of the Major Leaguers test positive, the program would be formalized next season and include a series of disciplinary actions. If less than 5 percent came up positive, survey testing would be repeated again. Results are expected to be made public sometime in November.

THG is a steroid that was designed for the main purpose of being undetectable by the standard test given to athletes.

A number of Olympic and professional athletes have been subpoenaed by a grand jury investigating the California-based company that prescribes nutritional supplements.

BALCO, owned by Victor Conte, is a nutrition and diet supplement company. Conte is the subject of investigations by the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Drug Administration, the U.S. Attorney's Office and the San Mateo Narcotics Task Force for his possible involvement in money laundering, Medicare fraud and steroid trafficking.

Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi of MLB, plus track stars Kelli White, Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery are among the athletes subpoenaed. None has been accused of taking steroids.

Major League Soccer also banned THG on Wednesday. The NFL had already banned the substance, but the NBA and NHL have yet to make a decision on rejecting it.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for The Associated Press contributed to this story, which was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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