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MLB, union agree to move testing
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05/11/2004  7:46 PM ET
MLB, union agree to move testing
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Major League Baseball and its union agreed on Tuesday to move all forms of drug testing under the MLB Joint Drug Prevention and Testing Program to a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) laboratory in Montreal.

Aside from the tests for anabolic androgenic steroids being administered this season to all players on the 40-man rosters of each MLB club, the Doping Control Laboratory at the INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier Research Center will also conduct testing of Major League and Major League affiliated players for international events like next year's projected World Cup and the Summer Olympics.

The change in labs was in the works even before an agreement was reached between MLB and the union last month on a drug testing procedure for the World Cup, which is slated to be played in the U.S. next March, said Bob DuPuy, MLB's president and chief operating officer. The International Olympic Committee and the International Baseball Federation both also sanctioned MLB's World Cup testing agreement.

"To come in line with international standards gives our program a much higher level of credibility," DuPuy said in a telephone interview.

Teterboro, N.J.-based Quest Diagnostic and Comprehensive Drug Testing of Long Beach, Calif., conducted and analyzed more than 1,400 tests on MLB players last year. When 5-to-7 percent of those tests came back with a positive result, punitive testing began in the Major Leagues this season.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency conducted tests on all MLB-affiliated players who took part in the Olympic Qualifying Event at Panama City, Panama, last year.

"There are tangible benefits to players in the utilization of a WADA-certified laboratory, particularly in the area in which they have been at the forefront, the promotion and development of baseball worldwide," Gene Orza, chief operating officer of the players association, said in a statement. "This is an important step on this road."

There are only two labs used by WADA to do drug testing in North America: Montreal and the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory in Los Angeles. MLB also announced on Tuesday that it has moved its entire minor-league drug testing to the UCLA facility.

While the MLB program tests only for 28 "Schedule III" steroids banned for over-the-counter sales by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the minor-league program also tests for many legal over-the-counter performance enhancing nutrients and illegal recreational drugs.

"These labs have absolutely the best facilities on both the level of ethics and accuracy," Rob Manfred, MLB's vice president of labor relations and human resources, said in a telephone interview. "It's important to bring our program up to international standards. Frankly, this is the best thing we could do to protect our clubs and our players."

Last year's survey tests were to remain anonymous, but they were recently procured by a federal grand jury sitting in San Francisco investigating the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) for tax violations and illegal distribution of steroids. The grand jury issued a search warrant and the two labs that were involved in last year's testing provided the results.

Four men have been indicted in the investigation, including Greg Anderson, the former personal trainer for San Francisco slugger Barry Bonds. Bonds was among 10 baseball players who testified before the grand jury late last year.

Just because the new testing will now be conducted by a lab in Montreal, that doesn't necessarily shield them from the subpoena power of a U.S. court.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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