Selig: Scientists studying test
NEW YORK -- Baseball commissioner Bud Selig says it's too soon to determine whether a blood test for human growth hormone can be used for minor leaguers.
Speaking Monday night before receiving a lifetime achievement award at the annual dinner of the Jackie Robinson Foundation, Selig said Dr. Gary Green, baseball's outside expert, and other medical staff were examining the data. Selig said the scientific experts haven't been able to give him a timeframe for their conclusions.
"I want them to come back and tell me what this means, and they already have said they can't do it right now, so there's no sense in me speculating, because I don't know," Selig said. "They've got a lot of work to do to determine the authenticity of it."
The United Kingdom Anti-Doping authority announced a two-year ban on Feb. 23 for rugby player Terry Newton, saying he had tested positive and was the first athlete suspended for using HGH.
In addition, Australian rules football said on Monday it would become the first sport in Australia to test for human grown hormone and a new form of the drug EPO.
The Australian Football League will also conduct extensive blood testing and profiling, freezing blood samples for up to eight years to detect drug cheats under an arrangement with the Australian Sport Anti-Doping Agency, football operations manager Adrian Anderson said Tuesday.
Selig can start blood testing on players with minor league contracts at any time. Testing on players on 40-man major league rosters is limited to urine, and rules can't be changed without an agreement with the players' association.
Baseball has helped fund the development of a urine test for HGH, but efforts of Dr. Don Catlin have been unsuccessful.
"We're doing it with the USOC and the National Football League," Selig said. "All of us are spending a great deal of money trying to find a test."
Selig wouldn't speculate on whether he would ask the union to accept a blood test for major leaguers.
"At this point in time, I just want our people to come back and tell me what it is," he said. "Then I'll go from there."
Selig, who retired Jackie Robinson's No. 42 for all major leaguers in 1997, was proud of his efforts on minority hiring since becoming commissioner in 1992.
"Without Jackie Robinson, there's no Hank Aaron, there's no Willie Mays, there's no Bob Gibson, there's no Willie Stargell. You can go on and on," Selig said.
Black players accounted for 10.2 percent of major leaguers in 2008, the most since the 1995 season, according to Richard Lapchick, director of the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports. The sport had reached an all-time low of 8.2 percent in 2007, according to Lapchick.
"We just have to be very aggressive," Selig said. "We lost a generation maybe in the '60s and '70s."
Later, he told the crowd at the back-tie dinner: "We owe Jackie and will always owe Jackie an enormous amount of gratitude, for he truly made baseball the national pastime."
On another topic, Selig said he thought a report by IBISWorld last week that MLB's revenue will grow 4.5 percent to $6.9 billion this year was slightly lower than his hope.
"I'm doing the clubs one by one," Selig said. "It's a little premature to do that, but it's a goal that I have obviously. My goal is actually a little bit higher."
Baseball estimates revenue last year at $6.6 billion, up $100 million from 2008.
Other honorees included soprano Jessye Norman (ROBIE Humanitarian Award), and Willis Group Holdings PLC chief executive officer Joseph Plumeri and Unilever NV PLC chief executive officer Paul Polman (ROBIE Achievement in Industry Awards).Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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