NEW YORK — A scientist who has worked to develop a urine test for human growth hormone said Friday that the blood test Major League Baseball plans to use for minor-leaguers can detect the substance for only 6 to 12 hours.
Don Catlin said the test, announced Thursday by commissioner Bud Selig, is of limited use. In February, a British rugby player became the first athlete suspended for a positive HGH test.
"The fact that it's been around for a few thousand tests and only one positive suggests that either there's much less growth hormone being used than we thought, which is doubtful, or the period of detectability is really pretty short — a few hours," Catlin said. "It's probably the latter."
Catlin added detection probably would work only with "middle-of-the-night testing."
Victor Conte, whose Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative triggered a federal investigation of steroid use among athletes, called the tests "flawed" because only postgame samples will be taken.
"It wouldn't take much of an IQ for a player to circumvent this … testing procedure," he wrote in an e-mail to the Associated Press. "A baseball player could possibly inject HGH as soon as leaving a ballpark and test negative … the following day. A morning blood sample would be the target."
Rob Manfred, executive vice president of labor relations, said MLB is taking whatever steps it could: "We are using the best available technology."
Bonds trial: Barry Bonds' trial might not occur this year. His lawyers, federal prosecutors and the judge overseeing the 3-year-old case failed to agree Friday on a date. Judge Susan Illston said her courtroom was available only in September. But Bonds' lawyers ruled that out, making early 2011 likely. The parties will reconvene Aug. 6 to try again. Bonds has pleaded not guilty to lying to a federal grand jury in 2003 when he denied knowingly taking performance-enhancing drugs.
Haren trade: Arizona said the Yankees are among "a few teams" in discussions about acquiring RHP Dan Haren, but there is no front-runner. Haren, 7-8 with a 4.60 ERA and 141 strikeouts (tied for the National League lead), has emerged as one of the most sought-after starters as the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline nears.
Suspension: Orioles 1B Ty Wigginton was suspended for three games for making contact with an umpire during an argument Thursday. He will play until an appeal is heard.
Tigers-Jays, PPD: Rain forced the game to be called before it began. A day-night doubleheader is scheduled for Sunday.
A's: Kurt Suzuki signed a four-year deal with a club option for 2014. In 2009, Suzuki, 26, became the second catcher in team history to lead it in RBIs (88). This year, he's hitting .257 with 37 RBIs and a team-high 10 homers.
Indians: LH reliever Aaron Laffey went on the DL with shoulder fatigue. An MRI exam did not show structural damage, so the team hopes rest will help.
Mariners: LHP Erik Bedard will get a third opinion on why his shoulder still hurts. He hasn't pitched since August's surgery for a torn labrum. Results of the first two exams weren't disclosed.
Nationals: RHP Luis Atilano went on the DL with bone chips in his elbow. His return hasn't been determined.
Orioles: 2B Brian Roberts was activated and played his fifth game of the year. He strained an abdominal muscle April 9 on a slide and since then has dealt with a herniated disc and pneumonia.
Rangers: C Matt Treanor left in the seventh when he sprained his right knee by tripping over Angels 1B Kevin Frandsen. His status hasn't been determined.
Royals: CF David DeJesus is out at least 10 weeks with a torn tendon in his right thumb. He crashed into the wall going for a fly ball Thursday. Also, Alex Gordon, the No. 2 overall pick in 2005, was called up. Since being demoted May 2, he has moved from third base to rightfield.
Twins: 2B Orlando Hudson left in the third with a muscle strain near his right rib cage. His status hasn't been determined.
Yankees: RF Nick Swisher was a late scratch with a sore left Achilles' heel. He said he doesn't know how or when he hurt it.