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Selig advocates zero tolerance policy on drugs

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  • Selig advocates zero tolerance policy on drugs

    Selig advocates zero tolerance policy on drugs with stricter penalties

    By TOM HAUDRICOURT

    Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

    TEMPE, Ariz. - Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said Friday his goal is to have a zero-tolerance drug policy in the major leagues similar to the one in effect in the minors, where offenders are punished immediately.

    Speaking for the first time since a newspaper report identified players who federal investigators say received steroids and other illegal drugs, including single-season home run champion Barry Bonds, Selig made it clear he does not consider the current major-league drug policy stringent enough.

    "The goal is to have a zero tolerance policy and have a policy very similar to the minor leagues, which is a tough, aggressive program that deals with these issues directly," said Selig, who attended the exhibition game between the Anaheim Angels and San Diego Padres.

    "We know what we want to do and how we want to do it."

    The minor-league drug policy, which went into effect in 2001, includes year-round, unannounced testing for steroids, ephedra and androstenedione as well as "drugs of abuse," such as cocaine, marijuana and heroin. A first offense results in a 15-game suspension without pay and subsequent offenses result in longer suspensions, with permanent expulsion on the fifth offense.

    The drug policy on the major-league level must be negotiated with the players association as part of the collective bargaining agreement. The policy the union reluctantly agreed to in August 2002 is less severe than the minor-league version.

    The major-league policy began with "survey" testing last year with no penalties. When more than 5 percent of the players tested positive, the second phase went into effect this year that puts first offenders in a treatment program without their names being divulged.

    Second offenders are suspended from 15-25 games and / or fined $10,000, with subsequent offenses resulting in larger punishments. On the fourth offense, a player can be suspended for up to a year and fined up to $100,000.

    That policy came under fire after a federal indictment of a California supplements laboratory for allegedly supplying steroids and other illegal drugs to major league players. Bonds, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield were among those subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury and later were identified, among others, as receiving those substances.

    Selig would not say if his office is currently in negotiations with the players union to put a tougher drug policy in place. He indicated he had no choice but to accept the current policy during the 2002 labor negotiations or risk another harmful work stoppage.

    "The drug policy negotiated certainly was a first step in what I've described as an evolutionary process," said Selig. "Other events have unfolded in the interim, so we have been spending a lot of time talking about what we should do and how we should do it. "We know what our goal is. It's just a question of how we get there."

    Selig was asked about his recent gag order for major league club officials on the subject of steroids. He insisted it was team officials who asked for that directive.

    "This was something that, actually, a lot of clubs, players, everybody called and asked for," said Selig. "I had done certain things to clean up the clubhouses (of extraneous personnel such as personal trainers), which was overdue.

    "There's been enough comment. Letting these clubs get ready to play baseball and having many people comment, one way or the other, isn't going to help us get to that goal. That was something that all parties asked for and I was going to do it anyway."

    Selig was asked about comments made Friday by Gene Orza, chief operating officer of the players union, at a California sports symposium. In downplaying the potential dangers of steroids, Orza said: "Let's assume that they are a very bad thing to take. I have no doubt that they are not worse than cigarettes."

    Though obviously incredulous at that comparison, Selig held his tongue when responding to those comments.

    "About 12 times a day, there's a lot of sarcasm that pours out of me," said Selig. "I'll resist in doing that. I've read them, I've thought about them and I don't have anything further to say.

    "You can read anything to that you'd like. Under normal circumstances, you'd get an earful."

    Selig admitted the steroid controversy came at a particularly bad time for baseball, which had a marvelous post-season in October. He said many teams have reported record pre-season ticket sales and noted the excitement over new ballparks opening in Philadelphia and San Diego as well as upcoming games in Japan between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

    "People often describe me as being pollyannish or this and that, but we've got a great year coming and the fact we're sitting here today and all the questions are about steroids, saddens me," said Selig.

    "We do have a lot going for us and it's my job with the help of others, to clean this up. The best way to solve it is to have a policy that just plain works. It's a situation needs to be dealt with, and I think we are."

    Asked if he could foresee the day when the steroid issue is resolved, Selig said, "God, I hope so. I'm constantly reminded that you know you've had a good day when the focus of the game is on the field.

    "We have so much going for us but when the focus is not on the field, or at least on the players, as it was last October, there's no question the sport gets hurt."

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  • #2
    The stupid moron doesn't even know what zero tolerance means. :rolleyes:
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    • #3
      The barn door is in the process of being closed. It's too bad the horse is in the next state.
      Make America Great For Once.

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      • #4
        Good old Bud, always reactive rather than proactive.

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