Selig: New policy will be effective
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."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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