Lowell calls for future steroid tests to be 100 percent accurate in recent speech
BOSTON -- World Series MVP Mike Lowell is willing to give blood if that's what it takes to be tested for human growth hormone.
But only if the test is 100 percent accurate.
Not 99 percent.
"If it's 99 percent accurate, that's going to be seven false positives," the Red Sox third baseman said Thursday before the annual dinner of the Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. "Ninety-three percent is 70 guys. That's almost three whole rosters.
"You're destroying someone's reputation. What if one of the false positives is Cal Ripken? Doesn't it put a black mark on his career?"
A respected voice in the Red Sox clubhouse who wasn't mentioned in the Mitchell report, Lowell nonetheless came under suspicion in 2005 when, in the first year players could be punished for failing an initial steroid test, he went through the worst slump of his career.
Two strong years since then -- including his World Series performance in 2007 -- have quieted the whispers that he struggled because he was off the juice.
"I'm not sensitive to it, because I'm secure in what I've done," he said. "But baseball players are put on a different stage."
Lowell noted that San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman was suspended after testing positive for the steroid nandrolone, but was elected to the Pro Bowl anyway. Patriots safety Rodney Harrison reportedly admitted receiving human growth hormone and was suspended four games, but he's still popular in New England.
"I don't know Shawne Merriman. I don't know Rodney Harrison. But nothing was made of it," Lowell said, noting that Patriots fans were more concerned about how Harrison's absence would affect the team.
Lowell acknowledged that part of baseball's problem was self-inflicted: By fighting any kind of testing for years, the sport allowed itself to be tainted in the public mind. But he stood by the players association and said union head Donald Fehr was concerned about the privacy and accuracy of the tests, not in protecting users.
Fehr and commissioner Bud Selig were called before Congress this week to explain the sport's efforts to fight performance-enhancing drugs. Lowell will follow them to Washington: He and manager Terry Francona have been invited to a baseball-themed dinner with President Bush at the White House.
Lowell received the Thomas A. Yawkey Award at Thursday night's dinner, adding a Red Sox MVP to the one he earned at the World Series. Others honored by the Boston chapter of the BBWAA:
Longtime coach and scout Dick Berardino as the winner of the Judge Emile Fuchs Award for long and meritorious service to baseball.
Francona, as manager of the year.
Cleveland Indians general manager Mark Shapiro as major league executive of the year.
Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, as the AL and Red Sox rookie of the year.
Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester, as the winner of the Tony Conigliaro Award for courage in overcoming adversity.
Lowell, also a cancer survivor, won the Conigliaro award in 2000.
It's been a busy offseason for him.
A high-priced castoff of the Florida Marlins who was dumped on the Red Sox in the Josh Beckett trade in 2005, Lowell hit 21 homers last season while reaching career highs with a .324 average and 120 RBIs. He then batted .400 (6-for-15) during Boston's four-game World Series sweep of the Colorado Rockies, with four RBIs, three walks and a team-high six runs.
His performance earned him a three-year, $37.5 million contract in November. But when asked for anything special that has come his way because of his postseason prowess, Lowell gushed about a photo shoot with actress Rene Russo.
"I don't think if I went 1-for-17 in the World Series I would have done that," he said.
Reminded that he also received a special invitation to the White House this month (the rest of the team will probably go in February), Lowell laughed.
"I put that ahead of the president?" he said. "Well, I don't think George Bush is going to be hugging me."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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