House Judiciary Committee joins the fray

Updated: May 20, 2005, 5:42 PM ET
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- A third congressional committee opened an investigation into steroids in U.S. sports, asking Major League Baseball, the NBA, NFL, NHL and their unions to turn over documents about their drug programs.

House Judiciary Committee chairman James Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican, and ranking Democrat John Conyers of Michigan sent 13 letters Friday asking for "any and all policies, protocols, guidance, instructions, standards, methods, e-mail messages, and memoranda explaining or describing [your] anti-doping efforts."

The Judiciary Committee plans to have the information it receives from the leagues analyzed by a nonpartisan research arm of the Library of Congress.

"This is the broadest, most comprehensive investigation planned by any committee and is being performed by a neutral entity," Conyers said. "This should equip ... the Judiciary Committee with the information we need to oversee and consider possible legislation in this arena."

The House Government Reform Committee and a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee already were carrying out separate inquiries into steroid use.

"The more the merrier. This is an important issue, and we're glad other committees agree," said Dave Marin, spokesman for Government Reform chairman Tom Davis, a Virginia Republican.

Those two panels have held hearings with witnesses including Mark McGwire, management and union officials from various leagues, researchers, and parents of young athletes who committed suicide after using steroids.

Cliff Stearns, a Florida Republican who chairs the Commerce subcommittee, proposed the Drug Free Sports Act last month. His panel will write the formal legislation Tuesday.

"I appreciate the Judiciary Committee's interest in this issue, but my focus in on advancing my legislation," Stearns said.

Davis announced Thursday he would propose a bill next week with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

In addition to the four major U.S. sports leagues and their unions, the Judiciary Committee's letters went to the NCAA, the WNBA, the U.S. Soccer Federation, the U.S. National Soccer Team Players Association and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

"As you are undoubtedly aware, the prevalence and impact of performance enhancing substances in professional and amateur sports has become a matter of national public interest and concern," Sensenbrenner and Conyers wrote.

The lawmakers said they want to "ensure that testing and enforcement programs established by professional and amateur sports leagues and associations are effective."

Among the information requested by June 20: current anti-doping policies and changes made since 1990, proposed changes to the policies, collective bargaining agreements, lists of prohibited substances, methods for testing, penalties, and test results. None of the information should have players' names, the letter said.

"We will give them everything they need," baseball spokesman Rich Levin said.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press