NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig says his science adviser is examining the human growth hormone blood test available through the World Anti-Doping Agency but isn’t sure when the studying will completed.
At his annual session Thursday with the Associated Press Sports Editors, Selig said University of California, Los Angeles professor Dr. Gary Green hasn’t made a determination. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency insists the test is valid.
“As soon as Dr. Green has finished his study on things, believe me, I’m most anxious to move forward,” Selig said. “One can debate what HGH does or doesn’t do. It needs to be banned.”
While HGH is banned by baseball, the sport doesn’t test for it.
Unionized major leaguers currently have only urine testing. The players’ union has said it would consider a blood test if it is validated.
Selig said that if baseball adopts the test, it would start using it for players with minor league contracts. He has repeatedly spoken with club athletic trainers about how prevalent the use of HGH is in the majors.
“The answer is we really don’t know,” Selig said. “Most think it’s relatively low, but they really don’t know.”
Cincinnati pitcher Edinson Volquez was suspended 50 games this week for testing positive for a banned fertility drug. It was the first suspension of a major leaguer under the drug program since Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez was penalized last May.
“The only thing that it proves is our program is working,” Selig said. “We do a lot of education. We’ll do more.”
On another topic, Selig said that while attendance is down between 1 and 2 percent this season, advance ticket sales for the rest of season were up 7 percent as of April 15, according to Major League Baseball Advanced Media, which handles online sales.
“We’ve had a little weather problem, a little here and there, but I feel pretty good about it,” he said.
Selig has noticed the low crowds in Toronto, Citi Field and other places.
“It doesn’t overly bother me,” he said. “Some clubs it depends on winning and losing. But it’s April, schools are still in, weekday games. When you are within 1 or 2 percent, it’s just not anything to get concerned about.”
Selig also said he is against expanding the first round of the playoffs to seven games, a proposal the players’ association says it might make during bargaining for a labor contract that would start in December 2011. Expanding the playoffs was brought up by Selig’s new committee examining on-field matters,
“I happen to like five-game series, but I understand,” he said. “I said to the committee one day if you want to be playing on Thanksgiving Day, we can talk about all these things. What I’ve said to the clubs is, ‘Look, if you guys want to cut the schedule to 154 games, maybe we can start talking about some of these things.’ Well, so far, I haven’t had one club that evinced interest in 154 games.”
Recommendations to quicken the pace of games may not be put in place until the 2011 season. Because this is an era of long games, Selig isn’t sure whether doubleheaders are fan friendly.