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Lawmaker: Despite progress, steroid law likely

7/7/2005

WASHINGTON -- Baseball and other major U.S. professional
leagues have made progress battling steroid use but not enough for
Congress to back off on legislation, a key Republican lawmaker said
Thursday.

"There is certainly movement, but I don't think we are where we
need to be yet," said House Government Reform Committee Chairman
Tom Davis of Virginia, who has sponsored steroid-testing
legislation that would subject athletes to two-year bans for a
first positive test.

Davis led a round-table discussion with representatives from the
NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball as well as anti-drug
advocates. Baltimore Orioles slugger Rafael Palmeiro took part via
conference call.

The hour-long session was closed to reporters.

Afterward, Davis said the discussion focused on how the leagues
should test athletes and ways to educate young people on the
dangers of performance-enhancing drugs. He said he expects Congress
will pass some form of legislation.

"I suspect at the end of the day, at a minimum, we'll have some
standards that the leagues would all have to meet," Davis said.
Amid scrutiny from Congress, some of the leagues have tightened
their drug testing policies.

The NFL has increased from two to six the number of random
offseason tests a player can face. A first positive test draws a
four-game suspension for a player, and a second earns an athlete a
six-game suspension.

Baseball banned steroids in September 2002 and instituted
mandatory 10-day suspensions this season. Commissioner Bud Selig
has suggested that starting in 2006, major league players be given
50-game suspensions for a first positive test for steroids,
100-game penalties for a second positive test and lifetime bans for
a third.

The NHL doesn't test for performance-enhancing drugs, but plans
call for random testing and discipline in a new collective
bargaining agreement.

The NBA's new collective bargaining deal increases penalties for
steroid violators, from five to 10 games for a first offense, 25
games for a second, one year for a third offense and a lifetime ban
for a fourth.

Two anti-steroid bills are pending in the House -- one sponsored
by Davis and ranking committee Democrat Henry Waxman of California;
the other sponsored by Rep. Cliff Stearns, a Florida Republican who
chairs a House Commerce and Energy subcommittee.

Besides the two-year ban for first time offenders, Davis' bill
sets a lifetime ban for a second violation. The legislation
proposed by Stearns calls for an athlete to be suspended half the
season for the first offense, a full season for the second, and a
lifetime ban for a third offense.

Friday's round-table was the first in a series of discussions
the Government Reform Committee plans this year.