If only Giambi could have gone into detail under oath about those health problems. But Giambi got out of testifying because he argued that, like Bonds, he has already testified to the BALCO grand jury.

So in the end, unfortunately, the congressional hearing might have sent as much of a positive as negative message to kids. When healthy-looking guys who have slugged thousands of combined homers mutter, "Kids, steroids are bad," what do you think some kids are going to say?

Where do I get 'em?

And several naive, buffoonish congressmen seemed to conclude that kids are shooting themselves in the butts with steroids only because baseball players are doing it. No, the majority of teenage steroid abusers are more interested in football than baseball. The center of the universe in many towns and neighborhoods is the local high school football team.

See "Friday Night Lights."

Congressional Hearing
Can Congress handle the truth about steroids?

So it's ludicrous for Congress to blame the steroid epidemic only on baseball's sluggers.

And it's equally ludicrous to think that baseball's owners and players will heed the congressional warning and readily agree to an Olympics-tough drug testing program – two strikes and you're out, with random testing year round. No, Congress needs to heed Canseco's book.

He's right: Steroids work, and players will continue to find ways to beat the weak, poorly governed tests sanctioned by owners who still want to sell home runs.

But none of us should want athletes using them in any level of competition. Who wants to see sluggers or linebackers with mutant muscles? Players succeed because they have better steroid formulas or because their bodies respond better to growth hormone? Chemical champions?

Steroid tragedies?

Children forced to use steroids to compete by the time they reach puberty?

No, Congress eventually must pass legislation that regulates performance-enhancing drug use in all sports, at all levels.

Do not be deceived, ladies and gentlemen of Congress. The NFL needs much tougher testing. So does the NBA. And the NCAA. And the PGA.

Trust me, steroid users and abusers in many sports – male and female – are thanking their lucky stars that Congress is fixated on baseball. Canseco has written what many athletes in many sports believe: If you educate yourself, you'll probably be OK. Whatever, steroids are worth the risk.

Seeing Mark McLiar all but admit that he used steroids only reinforced that belief for many chemically enhanced jocks.

So the next move doesn't belong to baseball.

It belongs to Congress. The only answer is stricter steroid laws and a universal test for all levels of competition, down to sixth grade. As Canseco writes, we must "accept what biochemistry and biotechnology can do."

That future should be sticking Congress like a needle in the butt.

Skip Bayless can be seen Monday through Friday on "Cold Pizza," ESPN2's morning show, and at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN's "1st & 10." His column appears twice weekly on Page 2. You can e-mail Skip here.



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STEROIDS STRATEGY