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MLB Wants to Test Minor Leaguers for HGH

GENERIC: baseball, steroids, drugs, sports, professional
Major League Baseball hopes to test minor leaguers for human growth hormone this year following the suspension of a British rugby league player who admitted using the substance.

The United Kingdom Anti-Doping authority announced a two-year ban Monday for Terry Newton, saying he was the first athlete suspended for using human growth hormone.

A blood test has been in existence since the 2004 Athens Olympics, but baseball officials have said until now that its validity was not universally accepted by the scientific community. While MLB can institute blood tests for players on minor league rosters, it must reach an agreement with the Major League Baseball Players Association to start blood testing for unionized players on 40-man big league rosters.

"We are well aware of the important news with respect to the HGH blood test in England," Major League Baseball said in a statement Wednesday. "We are consulting with our experts concerning immediate steps for our minor league drug program and next steps for our major league drug program. The commissioner remains committed to the position that we must act aggressively to deal with the issue of HGH."

MLB's stance was first reported by The New York Times.

Baseball began random urine testing for players on minor league rosters in 2001 and reached an agreement the following year to start testing unionized major leaguers.

The players' association has said it is willing to consider annual changes to its drug agreement, which runs through the 2011 season. The banned substance list is updated each year.