Sports leagues, USOC have been contacted

Updated: February 29, 2004, 9:44 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The White House wants to organize a summit of representatives from the major sports leagues and the U.S. Olympic Committee to discuss steroid use by athletes.

Officials at major league baseball, the NFL, NBA, NHL and USOC confirmed Sunday they were contacted by the White House about such a meeting.

The White House had no immediate comment Sunday.

Spokesmen for the NFL, NBA and baseball said those sports would participate but added no date had been set. NHL spokesman Frank Brown would not say whether the league plans to take part.

NFL Players' Association executive director Gene Upshaw said he would be interested in taking part in the meeting -- but only if others participate.

"We're not looking to be in a position to be the only ones at a summit," Upshaw said in a telephone interview.

The USOC said it welcomed a chance to participate.

"We look forward to working with the White House in this important endeavor," USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel said. "There is no room for the use of banned or illegal substances in sport."

The Washington Post first reported on the proposed summit Sunday, saying officials from the major sports leagues tentatively agreed to attend the meeting. Citing administration officials, the newspaper reported that there has been resistance to the meeting from the baseball players' union, which reportedly told the administration that baseball's steroids policy is a subject for collective bargaining and is not the federal government's responsibility.

Gene Orza, associate general counsel of the union, did not immediately return several calls Sunday.

The meeting would be an attempt by the White House to hold discussions with the leagues and athletes and raise awareness about steroid use in sports, Bush administration officials told The Washington Post.

In his State of the Union address, President Bush -- a former owner of baseball's Texas Rangers -- called on leagues to adopt tougher drug policies.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.