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01/16/2008 6:21 PM ET
Major League Baseball responds to WADA
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As recognized in yesterday's hearing, Major League Baseball has made great strides in its anti-doping efforts in recent years. And, as Senator George Mitchell found, MLB's program has the toughest penalties in professional sports and has effectively reduced the use of steroids in baseball.

During this time, Major League Baseball has made extensive efforts to work cooperatively with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). MLB uses the WADA certified laboratory at UCLA for testing in its minor league program and the WADA certified laboratory in Montreal for its Major League testing. As a result, MLB regularly interacts with key members of the anti-doping community in an effort to improve its programs.

Moreover, just recently, Major League Baseball entered into a partnership - the Partnership for Clean Competition (PCC) - with the U.S. Olympic Committee and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to fund cutting edge anti-doping research and education.

Despite these efforts, WADA President John Fahey today launched an inaccurate and misleading publicity campaign against Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association. MLB Executive Vice President Rob Manfred said: "These continuing, unprovoked, inaccurate publicity stunts by WADA have created an unwillingness to become more involved with WADA and its affiliates. We were hopeful that false public statements by WADA would end with its recent change in leadership and we are deeply disappointed that Mr. Fahey is showing the same counterproductive tendencies as his predecessor."

Contrary to Mr. Fahey's assertions, Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig has repeatedly said that he embraces all of Senator Mitchell's recommendations, including the recommendation on program independence. As Senator Mitchell recognized in his report, "There are a number of methods by which true independence may be achieved.

The precise form is for the parties to decide through collective bargaining. The independent program administrator could serve for a substantial fixed term, not subject to removal except for good cause."

Commissioner Selig said: "The structure of the independent program administrator was a substantial step forward for our program and, as Senator Mitchell recognized, with refinement that structure could provide true independence for the program. WADA does not have a monopoly on independence in the world of drug testing."

Mr. Fahey's statements mischaracterize the position of Major League Baseball in a number of important respects. MLB did not assert "there is no reliable test for hGH." Rather, Commissioner Selig's testimony stated, "When a valid, commercially available and practical test for hGH becomes reality - regardless of whether the test is based on blood or urine - Baseball will support the utilization of that test." Mr. Fahey's own press release states that "commercial kits are in development...," recognizing that the test is not commercially available today.

Manfred said: "Rather than focusing on the Commissioner's positive commitment to move forward with hGH testing, Mr. Fahey has elected to engage in semantic games that barely disguises WADA's own economic agenda."

Mr. Fahey's press release is also misleading with respect to the issue of blood storage. Manfred said, "Both Dr. Gary Green, our expert on performance enhancing substances, and Dr. Christiane Ayotte, the Director of WADA's Montreal laboratory, have expressed concerns about the wisdom and practicality of freezing blood samples."

Dr. Green said, "Although some have proposed the storing of serum samples, there are several practical and technological hurdles that would have to be overcome before this approach could be widely implemented."

Dr. Ayotte added: "The stability of hGH in serum may be greater, but the precise period of stability remains unclear. There are major issues related to the separation of serum from whole blood at collection sites such as doping control stations. In that setting, centrifuging and manipulating blood can raise serious occupational health concerns."

MLB has also learned that neither the laboratory at UCLA nor the laboratory at Montreal is currently storing serum samples frozen for future hGH analysis. Mr. Manfred said: "Perhaps Mr. Fahey should become more familiar with the operations of the WADA laboratories before attempting to criticize Major League Baseball."
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