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How Baseball Drug Testing Works


Baseball: Health Policy Advisory Committee

From the start, baseball has had a tough time establishing and operating a drug testing program. Like most other big-time professional sports, there's a delicate balance of power between the players' union and the MLB commissioner, who really represents the interests of the team owners. Initially, at least some of the players thought that allowing drug testing would put them under the MLB's thumb, and some even made noises about folding their arms and refusing to comply [source: MLB.com]. Fortunately for the sport, that didn't happen. But the tension did lead to an uneasy, awkward compromise, in which control of the program was given to a group called the Health Policy Advisory Committee, composed of both player representatives and baseball management.

But Congress and other critics thought that setup was too weak and pushed for drug testing authority to be turned over to an outside group such as the World Anti-Doping Agency, the organization that enforces antidrug policies in track and field and other Olympic sports. However, neither the MLB nor the players were willing to go quite that far. Instead, in 2008, they agreed to disband the HPAC and transfer its authority to the Independent Program Administrator (IPA), an official that they jointly appoint for a three-year term, and who can only be removed by an outside arbitrator [source: Associated Press]. In June 2012, Jeffrey M. Anderson, M.D., the longtime director of sports medicine and head team physician at the University of Connecticut, was appointed at IPA. At that time, Anderson also served as chairman of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports [source: Meisel].