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Baseball: mlb announces new steroid policy

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posted on Jan, 13 2005 @ 06:09 PM
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Players, owners forge new steroid agreement with penalty for first-time offenders

By BOB BAUM, AP Sports Writer
January 13, 2005


SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- With some of its biggest stars under suspicion and lawmakers demanding action, Major League Baseball adopted a tougher steroid-testing program that will suspend first-time offenders for 10 days and randomly test players year-round.

The agreement was hailed by baseball management and its union Thursday as a huge step forward but was criticized by some as not going far enough because the penalties are less harsh than those in Olympic sports and amphetamines were not banned.

``I've been saying for some time that my goal for this industry is zero tolerance regarding steroids,'' commissioner Bud Selig said.

A first positive test would result in a penalty of 10 days, a second positive test in a 30-day ban, a third positive in a 60-day penalty, and a fourth positive test in a one-year ban -- all without pay. A player who tests positive a fifth time would be subject to discipline determined by the commissioner.

``It's more for our protection than anything else,'' Boston pitcher Tim Wakefield said.

Under the previous agreement, a first positive test resulted only in treatment, and a second positive test was subject to a 15-day suspension. Only with a fifth positive test would a player subject to a one-year ban.

No player was suspended for steroid use in 2004, the first season of testing with penalties.


``We're acting today to help restore the confidence of our fans,'' Selig said.

Since the old agreement was reached in 2002, baseball has come under increased scrutiny about steroids.

Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield testified before a federal grand jury investigating the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative known as BALCO. President Bush mentioned the steroid problem in last year's State of the Union address.

``I will be surprised if over time this doesn't take care of the problem virtually completely,'' union head Donald Fehr said, speaking by telephone from Los Angeles.

Said St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa: ``I just hope it's the Cadillac of all policies because that's what major league baseball needs. There's no doubt we have a problem.''

The old deal wasn't due to expire until December 2006, but the union took the rare step of renegotiating a major section of its labor contract. The new rules run until December 2008.

``It appears to be a significant breakthrough,'' Sen. John McCain said in Washington.

McCain, who had threatened baseball with legislation, said that is no longer necessary, though he would have preferred a 10- to 15-game suspension for a first offense and a permanent ban for multiple positive tests.


``I would have liked to see amphetamines added to this list,'' McCain said.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson commended players and owners.

``Not only is this good for the game and for the sport in general, but professional athletes are role models to millions of youth and aspiring athletes across the country,'' Thompson said, ``and this step shows that the long-term health consequences do not outweigh any short-term gain.''

Still, it wasn't good enough for World Anti-Doping Agency chairman Dick Pound, a member of the International Olympic Committee since 1978.

``Basically, instead of having to hold up the liquor store five times before you get a one-year suspension, you only have to hold it up four times,'' he said. ``But at least there's some penalty incurred the first time that you're tested, and that's a step forward.''

In addition to one mandatory test each season, players will be randomly selected for additional tests, with no limit on the number, and for the first time will be subject to random tests during the offseason. In addition, diuretics and many steroid precursors were added to the banned list.

However, WADA's Dr. Gary Wadler called the new policy ``somewhat disingenuous'' and ``a Band-Aid.''

As in the previous deal, a player who tests positive will be targeted for more tests along with those who within the previous 12 months give a joint management-union panel reason to determine there is ``reasonable cause.''

Wadler specifically criticized the failure to address amphetamines, which many in baseball consider to be a far greater problem than steroids.

``Amphetamines, better known as `greenies,' have a long tradition in baseball,'' Wadler said. ``For them not to ban it raises questions.''

The issue of amphetamines came up during the talks between owners and players, said Rob Manfred, management's chief labor negotiator.

``Our focus, as Don said, was really performance-enhancing substances in terms of muscle building,'' Manfred said. ``Stimulants are a complicated area. Are they performance enhancing? How should they be regulated? That's something that we've put to the health policy advisory committee to look at because we weren't prepared to deal with it.''

Human growth hormone was added to a longer list of banned substances, but it will be found only when science determines a way to detect it in urine samples. Currently, it can be found only in blood tests, which will not be conducted in baseball.

``We had a problem and we dealt with the problem,'' Selig said. ``I regarded this as not only a health issue, but certainly you could say it was an integrity issue in this sport.''

The agreement was approved by owners Thursday but still must be voted on by players.

``I don't believe it's appropriate to search anybody -- either his home, or his garage, or his trunk, or his bladder or his bloodstream -- without getting a court order showing probable cause,'' former union head Marvin Miller said.

First-time offenders are suspended for at least four games in the NFL and for five games in the NBA. WADA's code, which has been adopted by most Olympic sports, says the ``norm'' is two-year bans for a first positive test and a lifetime ban for a second, unless there are mitigating circumstances.

Selig would not address what action baseball would take, if any, against players who had been found to be using steroids in the past. Baseball officials have said repeatedly that they didn't plan to penalize players for admissions of use prior to September 2002, when the initial agreement took effect.

``I have consistently said we're not going to engage in any conjecture,'' Selig said. ``There has been a lot of conjecture but there have been no players that have been convicted of anything.''

Associated Press Writers Ronald Blum in New York, Frederic J. Frommer in Washington, Jimmy Golen in Boston and Steve Wilstein in Seattle contributed to this report




posted on Jan, 17 2005 @ 07:11 PM
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Hey! What happened to all of the anti-steroid-mania on this site?

No response to the new "get tough" policy?

Maybe this will work better than the (I ain't heard much about it lately) opening game boycott?

You guys didn't go over to the dark side, didya.



posted on Jan, 17 2005 @ 07:35 PM
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i think that this i sa good first step. i would have liked to have seen stiffer penalties for the players who get cought, i would also like to see baseball donate money to develop a test to detect HGH. the thing that is hard to control is "what is next" how many more balco's are out there? how can you test for something that you don't know about?



posted on Jan, 18 2005 @ 12:01 PM
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sorry about the length of this but it is well worth the time to read

Speed game

Tom Verducci, SI.com


I like the step forward baseball took last week with its drug-testing policy. I don't understand, however, why the sport has to get to a true zero tolerance policy incrementally. And you must know, no matter what Bud Selig says, MLB is not there yet, with a player having to test positive four times before getting a year-long ban.

I knew baseball would do nothing about amphetamines. The owners floated the idea that they would ask for them to be banned negotiations with the players, but they did so only to cover their butts. They won't do anything about amphetamines because baseball fans don't care about them, and baseball moves only when it is politically in its best interest.

In May 2002 I wrote a special report in Sports Illustrated about steroid use in baseball. As part of that report I quoted players on the record talking about the rampant use of amphetamines in baseball. I spent the week doing television and radio interviews. Do you know how many questions I received about amphetamine use in baseball? Zero.

The questions were all about steroids. I knew then that players, owners and fans had come to accept amphetamines as "part of the game."


Since MLB's new testing policy was announced last Thursday, people have been moved to say some very nutty things about performance-enhancing drugs. Yes, it's a murky, underground world, but I'll help you sift through some of the nonsense that's been shoveled around since last week.

• The Quote: "If you tell me steroids help you hit major league pitching more often and farther, I see no evidence whatsoever. None ... There never has been any kind of decent testing of the same player. For example, with and without steroids, over a stretch of time so you can judge his performance. None. And until we get some evidence of a concrete nature instead of someone's opinion, that's my view." -- Marvin Miller, former executive director of the players association, to the Boston Globe.

What you should know: Oh, Marvin. I really like the guy. He should be in the Hall of Fame. He was a brilliant union leader. But, come on. Do you really want a control group of steroid users? They'll be lining up around the block when baseball asks for volunteers.

There is a reason why athletes take steroids: they work. They would not take them if they didn't. Don't take it from me, Marvin. You could study Jason Giambi if you like. But here's another steroid user -- think of it as a little control group of one guy who played without steroids and then with them. It's the voice of the late Ken Caminiti in SI:

"It's still a hand-eye coordination game, but the difference [with steroids] is the ball is going to go a little farther. Some of the balls that would go to the warning track will go out. That's the difference."

And more Caminiti: "My body was torn up and broken down but it felt good [on steroids]. I felt like a kid. I was running better. I'd be running the bases and think, 'Man, I'm fast!' And I had never been that fast. But I was. Steroids made me like that.

"The stronger you get, the more relaxed you get. You feel good. You just let it fly. If you don't feel good, you try so hard to make something happen. You grip the bat harder and swing harder and that's when you tighten up. But you get that edge when you feel strong. That's the way I felt. I felt strong, like I could just try to meet the ball and -- wham! -- it's going to go 1,000 mph. Man, I felt good. I'd think, Damn, this pitcher's in trouble and I'd crush the ball 450 feet with almost no effort. It's all about getting an edge."

• The quote: "A guy can take steroids, drugs, whatever. He still has to be able to hit that Roger Clemens 96-mile-an-hour fastball. Steroids don't help you hit that fastball." -- Hank Aaron to the Los Angeles Times.

What you should know: OK, I don't expect Aaron to be an expert on steroids. There is no evidence of steroid use when he played. So let me help him out a little here -- and everybody else who throws out this lame argument that steroids don't help you hit a baseball, because if they did, the big leagues would be stocked with muscleheads from your local gym.

See, we're starting with a subset of athletes who already have world-class hand-eye coordination. We're not turning Joe Dumbbell into an MVP. Steroids enhance the gifts these players already have. How? They make players stronger than they naturally would be, providing increased hand and bat speed through the hitting zone. The faster your hands and bat, the longer you can wait on pitches. The longer you can wait on pitches, the more you can decode their trajectory and spin. And as Caminiti explained, increased strength can add distance to balls put into play.

Moreover, steroids and human growth hormone allow a body to recover faster and better and to train harder than otherwise would be possible legally and naturally.

Need further explanation? The SI report included the story of a minor league center fielder who was 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds. His game was about contact and speed -- and he was a steroid user. Why? They helped him hit that fastball. Let him explain: "I'm not looking for size. I do it for my fast-twitch muscles. If I don't feel good that week or if my hands don't feel good, if they're a little slow, I'll take a shot or get on a cycle. It helps immediately. I notice the difference. My hands are quicker so my bat is quicker."

• The quote: "There's not a problem with it at all." -- Detroit Tigers catcher Vance Wilson to the New York Times on amphetamine use in the big leagues.

What you should know: I can't imagine Wilson said this with any seriousness. If he did, he ought to be embarrassed. Greenies have been in the game since the 1950s. They are rampant today.

Here's what Caminiti told SI about greenies: "I would say there are only a couple of guys on a team that don't take greenies before a game. One or two guys. That's called going out there naked. And you hear it all the time from teammates, 'You're not going to play naked, are you?' And even the guys who are against greenies may be taking diet pills or popping 25 caffeine pills and they're up there [at bat] with their hands shaking. So how good is that? This game is so whacked out that guys will take anything to get an edge. You got a pill that will make me feel better? Let me have it."

Former outfielder Chad Curtis agreed with Caminiti: "You might have one team where eight guys play naked and another team where nobody does, but that sounds about right. Steroids are popular, but quite a lot more guys take [amphetamines] than steroids. I'm talking about illegal stuff. Speed ... ritalin, which is legal only with a doctor's prescription ... sometimes guys don't even know what they're taking. One guy will take some pills out of his locker and tell somebody else, 'Here, take one of these. You'll feel better.' And the other guy will take it and not even know what it is."

Curtis added that amphetamine use is so prevalent that non-users are sometimes ostracized as slackers.

"If the starting pitcher knows you're going out there naked, he's upset that you're not giving him more than what you can," Curtis said. "The big-time pitcher wants to make sure you're beaning up before the game tonight."

An AL manager told me last month greenies are so prevalent with old and young players alike that baseball would have to shorten the season if they banned them. No problem at all? Give me a break.

• The quote: "I think the difference is amphetamines aren't necessarily performance-enhancing. They might give you a lift, but they're not going to make you go from hitting the ball 420 feet to hitting it 460 feet. That's the big discrepancy between [amphetamines and steroids]." -- New York Yankees pitcher Mike Stanton to the Times.

What you should know: Uh, OK, so if they are not "necessarily" performance-enhancing, why are players taking them? They taste good?

Here's Caminiti again about reporting to work lethargic after a night of drinking: "You take some pills, go out and run in the outfield and you get the blood flowing. All of a sudden you feel much better."

• The quote: "The purpose of these negotiations was to address steroids and muscle-enhancing matters." -- Donald Fehr, executive director of the players association, dismissing any action on amphetamines.

What you should know: There you have it. Let's limit ourselves to "muscle-enhancing matters," gentlemen. Illegal amphetamines that are rampant in the game? Ah, why bother? They've got nothing to do with muscles.

Did you know the first known doping deaths occurred from amphetamines, involving cyclists in the 1960s? Did you know, as San Diego GM Kevin Towers told SI, that the chemical hit from amphetamines often becomes addictive and often leads to dependency on a form of "downers," such as tranquilizers and alcohol, to come down from the high? Did you know that baseball moved to ban ephedra because of the death of Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler, but ephedra is a milder form of the amphetamines -- which are controlled substances -- that baseball does allow?

It made no sense for Rob Manfred, baseball's chief labor negotiator, to tell us with a straight face that the issue of amphetamines will be reviewed by a health policy committee. Baseball already bans them in the minor leagues, so now you're going to "study" them to see if they should be banned in the majors? And what kind of health policy committee will come back and say, "Amphetamines? You mean those addictive, controlled substances for which we have reams of medical information over many years telling us about their dangers? Pop 'em all you want, boys!"



posted on Jan, 18 2005 @ 08:15 PM
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Laughably lenient rules are better than none

By Dave Kindred - SportingNews


There were moments of silence observed before the starts of both the National League and American League championship series last October. As ordered by baseball's commissioner, Bud Selig, those moments were in memory of Ken Caminiti. It might even be said that baseball's new attitude about steroid use began with those Caminiti moments.

Look, maybe the prospect of shrinking testicles, impotence and urinary tract pain doesn't scare you. Maybe you're certain you'll never develop heart, kidney or liver disease. Maybe you wouldn't mind becoming a paranoid jerk subject to fits of rage.

If so, go ahead and needle up. You probably think all that health-risk stuff is bogus. You can say it hasn't been proved in studies over time. Besides, you say, we live in a society addicted to performance enhancement delivered by vitamins, drugs and surgeries, and all of that can be harmful if abused.


You can find experts who insist today's steroid phobia is the latest example of unthinking panic, a 21st century version of the 1950s "reefer madness" that portrayed marijuana as the devil's tool.

Those arguments can be made by reasonable people. Reasonable people can argue that steroid abuse is the problem, not steroid use. They can argue that if you get the right scientists and use the right stuff properly, steroids are not dangerous. They can argue that when the government gets involved in protecting us against ourselves, it too often winds up costing us more in freedom than it's worth in protection.

Yes, all that makes sense.

And then come the chilling moments of silence for Ken Caminiti.

If you've ever used steroids, or if you've contemplated using steroids, those moments of silence should have scared you straight.

Two and a half years ago, Caminiti confessed to using steroids over the last six years of his major league baseball career. He told his story to Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci. He said that maybe half of all major league players were on the juice. Though Caminiti backed off that percentage, he retracted only the number and not the truth as he saw it. He saw baseball as dirty with 'roid boys.

"Look at all the money in the game," he told Verducci. "A kid got $252 million. So I can't say, 'Don't do it,' not when the guy next to you is as big as a house, and he's going to take your job and make the money. ... It's no secret what's going on in baseball. ... They talk about it. They joke about it with each other."

Caminiti's troubles began with an addictive personality. During his playing days, he was an alcoholic. He began using steroids midway through the 1996 season. He had torn up his left shoulder. He said he didn't use the steroids to become a better player but to repair the damage more quickly.

Not only did the shoulder heal, Caminiti became a kind of hitter he had never been. He had never hit more than 26 home runs in any of his nine seasons. He was 33 years old when he first injected steroids. He then hit 28 home runs after the All-Star break and finished with 40. He hit .326 and had 130 runs batted in. When the Padres won a division championship, Caminiti became the N.L.'s MVP by unanimous vote.

In the world of athletics, baseball's new steroid rules are laughably lenient. The penalty for a first positive test is a 10-day suspension; in Olympic track and field, the first positive gets you a two-year suspension. A second positive in baseball brings a 30-day suspension, but a world-class sprinter, say, is banned for life.

Laugh if you will. Call it a Band-Aid, call it a public relations gimmick, call it pandering to politicians rattling sabers on Capitol Hill. But something is better than nothing. And I am in favor of something because ...

1) Use of steroids without a physician's prescription is illegal. In some ways, today's BALCO affair is a replay of 1981, when players, Pete Rose among them, testified about a doctor's illegal distribution of amphetamines. Under oath, Rose said, "What's a greenie?" As if he had not, two years before, admitted his use. When great players -- a Rose, a Barry Bonds -- are entangled in illegal activities, it's an insult to fans who pay their salaries.

2) Steroids build strength and so create two levels of play -- one for users, another for honest men.

3) Steroids can create health risks in normal people and exacerbate flaws in flawed people. Physical breakdowns while on steroids ruined the last five years of Ken Caminiti's career, and friends believe his devolution from MVP was a factor in his choice of coc aine.

He died October 10, three days before the NLCS opened. He had overdosed on coc aine and opiates. He was 41 years old.


Ben

posted on Jan, 19 2005 @ 10:41 AM
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i dunno what to say or think about this situation. Its a tough one indeed, they are making strides in the right direction, but i still dont think its enough



posted on Jan, 20 2005 @ 09:33 PM
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Yo, To! Way too long to read. Send Ming a hard copy when you get a minute.



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