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Selig: New policy will be effective

2/10/2005

SAN FRANCISCO -- Commissioner Bud Selig is confident that
baseball's new steroid policy will be in place when spring training
opens next week and dismissed criticism that it does not go far
enough to rid the game of performance-enhancing drugs.

"As a sport we have done everything that we could at this
point," Selig said Wednesday. "There are immediate penalties,
random testing, a player gets publicly named if heaven forbid he
does test positively. I'm very sensitive about this whole subject
but I think the sport has addressed it. It isn't as if we have
ignored it."

Selig was in town to announce that the Giants would host the
2007 All-Star Game, but his appearance was dominated by talk about
steroids.

The Bay Area has been at the center of the scandal, with the
BALCO investigation casting a cloud over Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi,
Gary Sheffield and other players, and an upcoming book by former
Oakland Athletics MVP Jose Canseco that reportedly accuses Giambi,
Mark McGwire, Ivan Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez of
steroid use.

Selig would not directly comment on Canseco's book but said
baseball executive vice president Sandy Alderson, a former
president and general manager of the A's, would address the book
after it is released next week.

Baseball did not have a steroid policy until 2002, when
allegations by former MVPs Canseco and Ken Caminiti pressured
players and management to negotiate one into the new labor
agreement.

That policy, which consisted of only survey testing the first
year and no suspensions until a second positive test after that,
was ridiculed as ineffective.

With some of its biggest stars under suspicion and lawmakers
demanding action, baseball adopted a tougher steroid-testing
program last month that will suspend first-time offenders for 10
days and randomly test players year-round.

The two sides are finalizing the language of that agreement, and
Selig expects it to be in place when spring training opens next
week.

"We've done what we needed to do," Selig said. "We were told
we didn't have a testing policy and then we did that. People said
it was weak and toothless. Then all of a sudden people said maybe
it is working, but now we've done a lot more. I know there are some
people who have been critical. They're wrong. This is a good
policy, a tough policy."

While whispers of steroid use in baseball date back more than a
decade, when bulked-up players began hitting homers in record
numbers, Selig said he hadn't heard the rumors until about 1998,
when McGwire broke Roger Maris' single-season home run mark.

"I never even heard about it," Selig said. "I ran a team and
nobody was closer to their players and I never heard any comment
from them. It wasn't until 1998 or '99 that I heard the
discussion."

Even though some of the sport's most cherished records are now
held by players accused of steroid use, Selig said there were no
current plans to put a special notation on those marks in the
record book.

Selig also said baseball would have announcements upcoming about
its plans to market Bonds' pursuit of Hank Aaron's home run record.
After the San Francisco Chronicle reported in December that Bonds
testified to a grand jury that he used substances prosecutors
believe are steroids, the commissioner's office said it was holding
off on plans.

"What Barry has done is remarkable," Selig said. "Certainly,
one can say this: Barry has done what nobody else has done,
including all the players in this generation. He deserves the
credit he is getting."