Commish wishes he knew then what he knows now

Updated: March 19, 2005, 9:57 PM ET
Associated Press

MESA, Ariz. -- Commissioner Bud Selig rejected the notion that baseball officials knew steroids were a problem 10 years ago but did nothing about it.

THE STEROID HEARING
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  • A very different opening day
  • What was said in The Show
  • Complete steroid coverage
  • "It's easy to look back and rewrite history," Selig said Saturday. "People can say that we knew, but I'd like to know on what basis. There certainly is no medical evidence. There was no testing."

    Speaking during a spring training game between the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs, Selig also dismissed the theory that owners looked the other way on steroids because they were happy with the home run boom in the late 1990s.

    "I never had an owner say to me, I like what you're doing, commissioner. These home runs are helping us. All this business about you should have known or you could have known, I take very seriously, but the programs have kicked in, and we're going to have to do whatever we have to do to eradicate steroids from our sport," Selig said.

    "It's not like we've ignored the problem. You can't minimize the health risk. Nobody is taking this lightly."

    Selig admitted that he wished he "knew in 1995 what I know now," but also defended baseball's current drug-testing policy. The sport banned steroids in September 2002 and began testing for them with penalties in 2004.

    Under a new agreement this offseason, players are tested randomly and a first offense is subject to a 10-day suspension or a fine.

    "What is the objective here in the end?" Selig said. "The objective is to eradicate steroids from baseball. That's the objective. If these programs do that, isn't that what we're supposed to have done? I'm not going to rest until we eradicate steroids. Whatever it takes to get that done, that's what we're going to do."

    Selig and other baseball officials testified Thursday at a congressional hearing on steroids, along with past and present sluggers such as Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro.

    Would I like tougher penalties? I would. They asked me about federal legislation. That is something baseball would not object to. This is a subject of collective bargaining. This is the program that we have. At least it's working.
    Bud Selig, baseball commissioner

    The commissioner said he was surprised that congress got involved so soon after baseball implemented its new testing program on March 3.

    "Everybody was sort of patting us on the back," Selig said. "Now we test year-round, random tests, multiple tests, all the things people had complained about. Am I a little surprised that the new program wasn't at least allowed to work a little bit? We didn't start testing until the 3rd of March. The new program is in force.

    "Would I like tougher penalties? I would. They asked me about federal legislation. That is something baseball would not object to. This is a subject of collective bargaining. This is the program that we have. At least it's working," he said.

    The commissioner said he wasn't sure how baseball fared in the court of public opinion during the congressional hearing.

    "It's hard for me to assess," Selig said. "Nobody worries more about the image of the sport than I do. I'm proud of our players."


    Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press