Sweeney trying to criminalize andro, more

Updated: March 2, 2004, 8:53 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- A New York congressman reintroduced legislation Tuesday to criminalize andro, the steroidlike substance Mark McGwire used the season he hit 70 home runs.

Rep. John E. Sweeney, speaking during a news conference at the baseball commissioner's office, also criticized the baseball players' association as an obstacle.

"It's a small group of people at the top of the union, because of their own particular self-interests, are really the obstacles here," Sweeney said. "It's not Major League Baseball that's obstructing," he added, saying the union "leadership chooses to ignore their own membership ... and isn't concerned about the overriding public health issue."

Gene Orza, the chief operating officer of the players' association, said Sweeney inaccurately described the union's position.

"We have no objection to the passage of the bill he is co-sponsoring, and no self-interest in the matter whatsoever -- unless he equates protecting the right of players to take whatever he can with self-interest," Orza said in an e-mail.

Sweeney, a New York Republican, introduced similar legislation in previous years to ban androstenedione and other steroid precursors, but those bills failed. While in the past he attempted to define steroid precursors broadly, his latest bill specifically defines a list of substances to be banned.

It is supported by House Judiciary Committee chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. and John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., the ranking minority member.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, who banned players with minor league contracts from using andro, also backed the legislation.

"The illegal use of steroids and other performance-enhancing substances is detrimental to the integrity of the game and the long-term health of the athletes who use them," Selig said in a statement.

Andro is not classified as a steroid, and players with major league contracts may use it. In 1999, a year after hitting a then-record 70 homers, McGwire gave up andro, saying he didn't want kids to take it because he did.

We have no objection to the passage of the bill he [U.S. Rep. John E. Sweeney] is co-sponsoring.
MLBPA exec Gene Orza

Much of the news conference was devoted to discussions of the federal grand jury investigation in California. Barry Bonds' trainer, Greg Anderson, was indicted on charges of illegally distributing steroids to athletes. Anderson has denied the charges.

Bonds, who broke McGwire's record by hitting 73 in 2001, was among those called to testify before the grand jury. Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield also testified -- all three have denied using steroids.

"Are we concerned about the impact this might have on the game? Yes. But we're also not ready to prejudge anyone as a result of what's come out so far," said Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer. "Other than Mark McGwire admitting that he used andro, we don't have any established evidence that any player used any particular substance or that it had an impact on that particular player's performance during any given year."

Sweeney said players "involved in illegal substances" should have an asterisk placed next to their names.

"The trick to this thing is that some of these substances at different periods of time were not illegal or were not detectable," he said.

DuPuy said baseball officials had discussed whether the grand jury investigation was sufficient for them to invoke a provision in baseball's labor contract allowing even more frequent testing "for cause" but said no decision had been made.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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