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Baseball player suspended for HGH -- without testing positive

A minor league player has been suspended for using human growth hormone even though he didn't test positive

In 2011, the NFL and its players' union announced an agreement to test players for human growth hormone. Three years later, the parties have yet to implement HGH testing.

The viability of the tests remain at issue. In baseball, where the league and union put HGH tests in place in 2011, a minor league player was suspended Monday without a positive test.

Michael Clemens, 21, a pitcher in the rookie-level Appalachian League, was suspended for 68 games Monday "for his possession and use of human growth hormone," according to a statement from the commissioner's office.

Clemens was suspended based on what is called a "non-analytical" violation -- essentially, evidence besides a positive test, according to a person familiar with the matter but not authorized to discuss it. Such evidence could include documents, clinic records and shipping information.

That kind of evidence -- rather than a positive test -- resulted in the 14 suspensions issued last year in the Biogenesis scandal. When the league suspended Alex Rodriguez for 211 games -- a penalty later reduced by an arbitrator to 162 games -- the announcement cited Rodriguez for his "use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone, over the course of multiple years."

After a two-year federal investigation dubbed "Operation Strikeout," Biogenesis founder Tony Bosch was arrested this month. He has agreed to plead guilty to a conspiracy to distribute testosterone, according to court records.

At the time of his arrest, ESPN reported that multiple players not previously linked to Biogenesis had been identified in the federal investigation. The information used to suspend Clemens did not come from the federal case, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Twitter: @BillShaikin

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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