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(Reuters) - The National Basketball Association will begin blood testing for Human Growth Hormone (HGH) under the league's anti-drug program, effective with the 2015-16 NBA season, the league and the Players Association said on Thursday.
All players will take three random tests annually, two during the season and one in the offseason, with a positive test resulting in a 20-game suspension for a first violation and a 45-game ban for a second one.
A player would be dismissed and disqualified from the NBA for a third violation.
Owners and players had agreed to find a process for HGH testing during their collective bargaining negotiations in 2011.
The testing will begin with the start of 2015 NBA training camps.
The NBA joins Major League Baseball and the National Football League among the major North American sports leagues to implement testing for HGH.
The National Hockey League has said it plans to implement drug-testing for HGH but has not announced a program.
MLB was the first to initiate blood testing and analysis of urine samples for HGH in 2013 and has disciplined players for its use under the joint doping program with the players association.
The NFL and players union, which added HGH testing as part of the collective bargaining agreement signed in 2011, did not agree on the terms until 2014.
Random testing of a limited nature started in October of last season. Of about 790 HGH tests given in the first year of testing, there were no positives.
Editing by Steve Keating.