Major League Baseball has stopped testing players for steroids for the first time in nearly 20 years due to the expiration of the sport’s drug agreement, two people familiar with the sport’s Joint Drug Program told The Associated Press.
The people spoke on condition of anonymity Monday because no public announcement was made.
The halt in testing is a casualty of the sport’s lockout that started Dec. 2 and a provision in the joint drug agreement between MLB and the players’ association that states “the termination date and time of the program shall be 11:59 p.m. ET on Dec. 1, 2021.”
MLB and the union declined comment on the halt.
Just last month, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were denied election to the Hall of Fame by baseball writers over suspicions of PEDs use. Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez, who both served drug suspensions, fell well short in voting.
Absent fear of detection, it is hard to predict whether some players will attempt to use PEDs in the period before a new collective bargaining agreement is in place along with a restoration of the drug-testing program.
Baseball reached its first joint drug agreement in late 2002, a deal calling for survey testing in 2003.
Urine testing for PEDs with penalties for violations began in 2004 under a series of a repeatedly tightened drug agreements. Testing for banned amphetamines started in 2006, and in 2012 blood testing for Human Growth Hormone began, though it was suspended last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In December 2007, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell issued a report commissioned by MLB that implicated 85 players in PEDs use, including seven MVPs and 31 All-Stars. Many denied the allegations.
Baseball’s halt in testing was signaled to players in a “Work Stoppage Guide” created by the Major League Baseball Players Association and distributed to its members, a copy of which was obtained by the AP.