NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball and the players' association stopped blood testing for Human Growth Hormone because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Blood testing for HGH began in 2012, and 412 samples with no positive results were collected in the year ending with the 2020 World Series.
MLB and the union never publicly announced the stoppage in blood testing but its absence was revealed Monday when Thomas M. Martin, the independent administrator of the joint drug program, released his annual report.
The decision to interrupt blood testing during the pandemic was made because drawing blood is more invasive than urine testing and requires additional collectors who would have increased the number of people coming into contact with players and decreased social distancing.
MLB and the union plan to resume blood testing next season.
Therapeutic use exemptions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder continued to drop, to 79 from 90 in the previous year and 101 three seasons ago.
There were just five TUEs other than for ADHD: two for hypogonadism and one each for altitude sickness, hypertension and sleep disorder.
Drug tests rose to 8,436 in the year ending with the 2021 World Series after dropping to 4,155 — 3,733 urine samples and 412 blood samples — in the year ending with the 2020 Series. That included a season shortened from 162 games per team to 60 during the pandemic.
There were 11,619 tests — 9,332 urine and 2,287 blood — in the year ending with the 2019 World Series.
Offseason tests dropped to 551 during the 2020-21 offseason, down from 2,079 in the 2019-20 offseason, which was before the pandemic.
In summarizng testing over the five years of the collective bargaining agreement that expires this week, Martin said 45,973 tests were conducted, including 38,646 in-season and 7,327 during the offseason.
There were five positive tests for performance-enhancing substances in the year ending with the 2021 World Series: two for DHCMT (Dehydrochlormethyltestosterone) (Miami pitcher Paul Campbell and Colorado third baseman Colton Welker) and one each for Nandrolone (Oakland outfielder Ramón Laureano), Stanozolol (San Francisco pitcher Daniel Santos) and testosterone (Seattle pitcher Héctor Santiago).
There was one positive test for a banned stimulant, for amphetamine. An intial positive test for a banned stimulant causes follow-up testing, and the identity of the player is not announced.
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Ronald Blum, The Associated Press