Mccain knocks steroids baseball
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McCain knocks steroids, baseball
Players board meets in Valley
Dec. 6, 2004 12:00 AM
Major-league baseball players are under pressure from Sen. John McCain and others to adopt more-stringent testing for steroids as their union's executive board opens a week of meetings today in Phoenix.
Union chief Don Fehr confirmed Sunday that the union will discuss steroids at the meetings.
"This was always supposed to be a topic at this meeting," Fehr told USA Today. "We've had ongoing discussions with the commissioner's office and it was always going to be a topic here, hopefully with a resolution coming out of it."
If there is no resolution, Congress may provide one, McCain warned.
The Arizona Republican, appearing on Fox News Sunday, said President Bush would sign a bill into law.
"There's not a doubt in my mind. He'd love to," said McCain, who accompanied Bush to Saturday's Army-Navy college football game in Philadelphia.
McCain added that Bush, too, would prefer that baseball act on its own.
"I know that the president would like to see it done through collective bargaining and decisions made by owners and labor," McCain said.
His comments came after revelations from federal grand jury testimony reported last week in the San Francisco Chronicle that New York Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi and San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds used illegal steroids.
"The important aspect of this issue is not Barry Bonds or other big names," said McCain, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee.
"The important aspect of this issue is that high school kids all over America believe that this is the only way they can make it. Ask any high school coach."
The revelations have also led baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to renew efforts to have the union adopt the minor league's zero-tolerance program.
Selig urged the players and their union "to emerge from this meeting ready to join me in adopting a new, stronger drug-testing policy modeled after our minor league program that will once and for all rid the game of the scourge of illegal drugs." Selig wants the plan in place by the start of spring training in February.
"I'm sure this (discussion of steroids) will get heightened attention because of all the publicity the last few days," Fehr said.
Fehr, who has opposed year-round random drug testing as an invasion of privacy, has been in negotiations with Rob Manfred, Selig's top labor lawyer, about a new policy on steroids. Players are tested once during the season and receive counseling after the first positive. Minor league players face four tests throughout the year and are suspended after a first positive test.
"We've had ongoing discussions with the union," Manfred said. "We feel a great sense of urgency to complete the discussions, and we hope the union has the same sense."
In last week's Chronicle, quoting a December 2003 grand jury transcript reviewed by the newspaper, Giambi said he injected himself with human growth hormone in 2003 and used steroids for at least three seasons. He had denied using steroids.
Bonds testified to the grand jury that he used a clear substance and a cream given to him by a trainer indicted in the investigation of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative in northern California but said he didn't know they were steroids.
New York Mets pitcher Tom Glavine, a players' association leader, expressed skepticism about congressional action.
"It sounds great, or it sounds tough," he said. "I'm not even sure if that can be done. I'm sure it was designed to be, 'Oh my God, we had to do something.' "
Other lawmakers pressed players for action.
"They have a responsibility, not only to the sport, but to the children of America who look up to these players," Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said on Fox News Sunday. "Quite frankly, it's overdue."
Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said the problem "could be ended, bang, just like that, if everybody from the owners to the unions just step up and face the reality that we've got a huge problem."
Appearing on ABC's This Week, Frist said, "I'll support being very aggressive if it cannot be addressed at the more local level, which again, I would much prefer."
After the Army-Navy game, McCain said he wanted immediate action "to restore the integrity of baseball" or Congress would act.
"I warned them a long time ago we needed to fix this problem," McCain said. "It's time for them to sit down together and act. And that's what they should do. If not, clearly, we have to act legislatively, which we don't want to do."