MLB drugs tests up 3 percent

NEW YORK -- The number of drug tests conducted by Major League Baseball rose 3 percent in the past year, when Colorado Rockies catcher Eliezer Alfonzo was the only big leaguer suspended for using a performance-enhancing substance.

Alfonzo was banned for 100 games and there was just one positive for PEDs among 3,868 tests that resulted in discipline, according to the annual report issued Thursday by Dr. Bryan Smith, the independent administrator for baseball's drug program. The positive test was for methenolone, which is contained in steroids sold under the brand name Primobolan.

Under its new labor deal reached last week, baseball players will undergo blood testing for human growth hormone during spring training, starting in February. There is no agreement yet for regular-season blood testing.

Alfonzo's was a second offense because he also tested positive in 2008 and served a 50-game suspension. The previous year, there were two positives for PEDs among 3,747 tests: Cincinnati pitcher Edinson Volquez and Florida catcher Ronny Paulino.

While Manny Ramirez tested positive this year, he retired rather than serve a 100-game suspension. Smith's report lists only the substances for positive tests that result in discipline.

The total of tests fluctuates depending on how many players appear on 40-man rosters during this season.

The number of offseason tests wasn't included, but in an April report Smith said there were 138 in the previous offseason. The total will rise to up to 200 next offseason and 250 in each offseason starting in 2014-15.

In the NFL, roughly 20 to 25 percent of the approximately 4,000 tests in 2010 were during the offseason.

Baseball had 12 positive tests for stimulants last year, most of them initial positives that result in six follow-up tests over the next year and counseling. The only player suspended for stimulant use was Milwaukee pitcher Mark Rogers, who received a 25-game penalty -- the punishment for a second offense.

There were 111 therapeutic use exemptions, up one from last year. There were 105 granted for attention deficit disorder, the same as last year.

While MLB has been criticized by Dr. Gary Wadler for the amount of ADHD exemptions, MLB senior vice president Dan Halem said the sport's experts maintain the condition is more frequent in young adult males than among the general population.

Matching last year, there were two exemptions for hypertension, one for hypogonadism and one for narcolepsy. The total for post-concussion syndrome doubled to two.

Players must reapply for an exemption each year.