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House Judiciary Committee joins the fray

5/20/2005

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.