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drugs are badOn the heels of a steroid-tinged Hall of Fame vote that saw not a single player gain induction, Major League Baseball and the Players Association have announced that they’ve agreed to pretty dramatic changes to their joint drug testing program. The biggest change will see random, unannounced, in-season blood tests for human grown hormone. It’s going to be wild when the first player gets hit with that one.

The other big change is one that potentially could help with odd situations like the Ryan Braun one last year. From the official press release:

In addition, beginning in the 2013 season, the parties have authorized the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)-accredited Montreal Laboratory to establish a longitudinal profile program, in which a Player’s baseline Testosterone/Epitestosterone (T/E) ratio and other data will be maintained by the laboratory, with strict protections for confidentiality, in order to enhance its ability to detect the use of Testosterone and other prohibited substances. The laboratory will automatically conduct Carbon Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IRMS) analysis on all specimens that vary materially from a Player’s baseline values. The laboratory also will increase the number of random IRMS analysis it conducts on specimens. The longitudinal program being implemented by the parties will be one of the most significant programs of its kind in the world.

Having a baseline testosterone level for individual players will more easily allow for testers to detect variances. I wonder if the combined effect of these changes will be more positive tests, or if – even better – fewer and fewer players will even try to beat the system.

  • 2much2say

    It’s possible Castro moves to 3rd once Baez shows he’s ready. That may account for the lack of urgency to fill 3rd.

    • yield51

      Since you are off-topic, and I also had an off topic thought, I guess I will share it here. I’m not sure if this has been talked about, but I read last night that Kinsler has reneged on his original agreement to move from 2B next season. This obviously hurts Profar’s chances at opening the season with the Texas, but could it help the chances of a Soriano to Texas deal? I remember reading that they were going to try to play Kinsler at either 1B or in LF.

    • Crazyhorse

      The lack of urgency to fill 3b is a miscalculation by the Front Office . The Cubs did not resign Aram thinking that they could replace his production and defense with Ian Stewart and the Cubs paid dearly for that mistake. Last year production at third was nothing to brag about and some could say was an embarrassment. But Stewarts failure also handcuffed the front office in keeping Vitters and exposing his weakness last year thus lessening his trade value.

      I do hope Stewart can overcome his limp wrist ,but his future was written in his past performance ,he had one good year at Colorado and now the Cubs might have to gamble on a second season. its a shame.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        I strongly doubt that Vitter’s brief glimpse of the majors hurt his trade value significantly. Posting an OPS of .869 in Triple A as a 22 year old, an OPS that included one of his highest OBP and BB% over a full season as a professional, likely helped his value far more than his dubious major league debut hurt it.

        • ETS

          Think Rizzo was worth more or less than Andrew Cashner before he put up those terrible MLB numbers?

        • Crazyhorse

          Some people might consider hype as value. Take for instance Rizzo – Rizzo had a an awful year and the cubs were able to steal him from the padres. We gave up a hell of a pitcher but in reality we gave up a hard thrower that is injury prone and the cubs got Rizzo A k machine that whiffed at fastballs – both players had lost the hype associated with each player.Anyway if Vitter did so well – then he should be the Cubs third baseman and overpaying Stewart to be a backup at third the only position he can play seems like wasted dumb move.

          • DarthHater

            What Luke said is that Vitters’ performance as a 22-year-old at AAA in 2012 was good enough that his brief weak major-league showing should not have done significant damage to his trade value. It does not follow that Vitters is or should be ready to be a successful starting major-league third baseman in 2013.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

              Yes.

              And even if the Cubs think Vitters might be ready to take over 2013, resigning Stewart was still a good move. Stewart’s deal is not guaranteed. The Cubs can cut him loose in spring training if they don’t need him at a relatively low cost.

            • Crazyhorse

              I understand what Luke said and i agree with him . I also feel that if Stewart was able to perform to what the front office expectation . Vitter would have been traded by now but the Cubs need to keep Vitter and trading him at this point with a glaring hole at third would be a mistake as well.

              • BT

                Vitters isn’t going to be our third baseman this year (at least to start), so I don’t think this makes any sense. Trading Vitters isn’t dependent on Stewart’s growth.

    • JoeyCollins

      Or Baez plays third once he shows he is ready?

      • ETS

        Am i the only one that think Frylock looks like Derrek Lee?

  • XavierGunz

    Its about time they do this. I would have thought after the steroids era this would have been implemented. Braun would have gotten pinched last season had this been already happening. Yes, I wonder who goes down first.

    • MichiganGoat

      Watch it be some Campana-esque scrappy player. Someone with limited power but all kinds of scrappy factor.

      • fortyonenorth

        First, they’d have to develop a baseline for “scrappy.” I don’t see that happening–not with the scientific tools we have available today. Maybe when our kids will see it–or our kids’ kids, but not in our lifetimes. For now, we’ll just look at the scrappers who beat the system and sigh. It’s been like that for generations. Hell, even if Pete Rose could get elected to the HOF, his inclusion would be tainted by scrap.

      • Cubbie Blues

        I wouldn’t be surprised by it at all and I also wouldn’t blame them for it either. Imagine that you are a AAAA guy that can’t find a 4th or 5th OF position, but if you had just a little more power and a little more range you would be very serviceable. The monetary gain to be had over a career in the Minors is a stark difference. As much as I would love to stay on my high and mighty, when thinking of it in these terms I really couldn’t blame them. Now, if they were just being stupid about it and taking dbol or something like that which is easily traceable that is just ignorance.

  • MichiganGoat

    Very bold changes nice to seeing the union behind it all

  • @cubsfantroy

    It doesn’t surprise me in the least that they are going to go a bit farther with it. Like was said before, I wonder who will get popped first.

  • cjdubbya

    Hopefully they don’t sit on Braun’s sample over the weekend again this time…

  • Muck

    Ok I was so happy the night Braun tested. I hate the Brewers. But anyways whenn Rizzo came up with the Padres he sucked kinda along with what Jackson and Vitters did this past year. So you can’t judge their futures on what happened in the month or 2 they were up in the majors. From their numbers in the minors and talent that they have you can’t give up on them yet.

    • baseballet

      While one shouldn’t give up on Vitters and BJax based on their terrible MLB debuts, it’s reasonable to be very worried, especially with BJax since he also struggled in minors last season. There’s still hope like before, but it’s tainted with more apprehension now.

  • Brian

    Not a doctor and didn’t stay in a Holiday Inn Express, so, is there a common, normal testosterone baseline for all male’s that will be the beginning baseline?

    • Internet Random

      There are normal ranges, but they vary by lab. What you’re describing is the way they currently test, which, I’m guessing, they will continue to do in addition to the new individual longitudinal profiles.

  • Carne Harris

    Nice, glad they’re finally doing this. I know nothing about how this works, but worry they’re going to try to artificially raise their baseline to ward off positive tests. No idea if that’s even possible.

    • Internet Random

      Some could try to do this, but it will be a waste of their time. If they get out of a normal range, they’re going to get flagged anyway. And if they don’t boost it out of the physiologically normal range, the scientific literature seems to indicate that they’re not going to get much, if any, performance boost.

      • Carne Harris

        Good to know, thanks.

  • Southern Cub

    No more HR’s for Ryan Braun

  • ActionJackson

    I don’t care what they do, any steroid test can be easily passed with proper monitoring. Since they test the ratio between Testosterone and Epitestosterone (4:1) (was 6:1 until 2006) then as long as you keep it in that range you will pass. By the way testosterone and Epitestosterone are found in the body in the ratio of 1:1. Smart individuals can also administer a Epitestosterone substance as well as their Testosterone substance in a ratio of at the most 4:1 and they will never fail a drug test.

    • ActionJackson

      having a baseline level is a joke since scientifically testosterone fluctuates dramatically in the body based on several factors (ie. sleep, diet, activity level, etc…). I think that is just put in there to make people who don’t have a clue about anabolic steroids or other testosterone based products or natural testosterone in the body to feel like the problem is solved or for players to get scared off by this but in reality I don’t see that making a difference

      • DarthHater

        The press release did not mention establishing a baseline level of testosterone. It speaks of a baseline Testosterone/Epitestosterone ratio.

  • ActionJackson

    Yeah that base line ratio will more than likely be 4:1 for each person as is used by the World Anti Doping Agency and as well in other sports and I believe is currently used in baseball now. I don’t believe this is anything new in baseball as the baseline ratio was already 4:1. Not that hard to beat the test if you administer Epitestosterone along with your Testosterone administration. For example, You could administer mega doses of Testosterone (which baseball players wouldn’t) and administer epitestosterone along with your testosterone in a ratio of 4:1 (2:1 OR 3:1 would be safer) and you will not test positive.

    Trust me…..I have passed several steroid test in the past.

    • DarthHater

      Just trying to understand. :-) I was just wondering whether it might be easier to use epi to keep the t/e ratio below a certain level (which i understood was what you were describing) than it would be to use epi to try to maintain a constant t/e ratio when one is also administering testosterone? If so, then establishing a baseline t/e ratio for each player could make it harder to cheat.

      Or is the baseline ratio just intended to prevent individual players from claiming they have a naturally high ratio for genetic or similar reasons?

      • ActionJackson

        Also, just having a ratio for each individual would be extremely tough and due diligent and too much room for criticism. So an “umbrella” ratio (6:1 or 4:1) is used.

  • ActionJackson

    well administering just epitestosterone could throw up red flags as well as it will also alter the ratio.

    A little example of a professional sports that has rules in place (like all sports) but KNOWS its athletes use (like all sports) but make the rules “tough” but beatable is UFC.

    For example, last year Alistair Overeem tested positive with a T/E ratio of 12:1 (Nevada and UFC rules ar a ratio of 6:1). Dana White (the president of UFC) was quoted after Alistair Overeem tested positive as saying “You have to be a complete idiot to test positive”. Basically saying, Hey we have rules in place but if you are not a complete jack wagon you can easily use Steroids and be ok. Just be smart about it.

    Basically, that is a perfect example off ALL sports. They put rules like this out there knowing it gives room for players to use (if they are smart enough) but in all honestly there are alot of complete idiots out there.

    • DarthHater

      Interesting. Thanks.

  • ActionJackson

    Yeah, basically rules like this are so the “big wigs” and “executives” can pat themselves on the back and say “we have tough rules and testing in place” and it appeases the normal media and fan society/base because they know no better and in reality it is just a way to allow players to get away with it but “carefully”. That is why Conte and others that understand this laugh at it and call it a joke.

    • Internet Random

      They claim that they will also increase the number of random mass-spec analyses they conduct. If this increase is substantial, the new policy will be more than just show.

      Also, folks should know that the T/E ratio as is being discussed here is as it is used in the screening stage. That is, they’ll be checking everyone’s wee-wee for T/E levels, and all samples with a funny T/E ratio will get an IRMS analysis. But they are going to be subjecting more samples randomly for IRMS analysis too, not just those that fail the T/E wee-wee quiz.

  • ActionJackson

    Not going to get into the complication of things when it comes to passing tough tests or tougher testing but if you know what you are doing you CAN and will pass. There is alot more complicated ways than just administering EPI with your Testosterone to fall within the ratio (I just used that as an example) because they were talking about the baseline T/E ratio. Take bonds for instance, he had chemists on his side. There are alot of ways (complicated and not) to pass tests. And there are always new designer steroids being designed (ie. Victor Conte and Patrick Arnold), Not to mention all the basement chemists.

    Like I mentioned I have passed alot of Steroid tests over the past 10 years and have utilized alot of different ways to do so. Some easy and simple ways as well as some complicated and very well planned out. If a player wants to take steroids and not be caught they can. The only problem is most players don’t and wouldn’t take the time to follow through with a plan to pass a test let alone a random test (no matter how stringent it is). And basically most players are ignorant and not knowledgeable when it comes to steroids etc.

    • Internet Random

      Please enlighten me. You don’t have to oversimplify; I’m not a complete stranger to biology and chemistry.

  • Brandon

    Cheating and performance enhancers have always been a part of the game, the “godfather of peds” pud galvin used an elixer that contained animal testosterone that was drained from the scrotum of hamsters and dogs and injected into pud, he was baseballs first 300 game winner and is in the hof…that was back in the 1800’s.

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