WADA rips MLB's drug policy
SINGAPORE -- World Anti-Doping Agency chief John Fahey said Monday that Major League Baseball is "misleading" the public by its continued refusal to institute a transparent and rigorous drug testing program.
Fahey said the integrity of the game will eventually be called into question and fans will show their disapproval by refusing to attend games. WADA has repeatedly criticized MLB for what it considers inadequate testing.
"Ultimately, I think the integrity of sport will come into question and in that context they have to think about the future of their game," Fahey said in an interview with The Associated Press.
"The public doesn't like to be taken for a ride and they will march accordingly," Fahey said. "If you say come to the contest, am I going to watch who has the best chemist? You don't go to watch that."
Rob Manfred, baseball's executive vice president of labor relations, did not respond to a request for comment.
In March, Fahey called on MLB and its union to start testing for human growth hormone. Baseball announced last month that players with minor league contracts will be subject to a blood test for HGH, although the effectiveness of the plan has been questioned.
Players who are not on 40-man major league rosters are not members of the union, which means blood testing for them is not subject to collective bargaining. The Major League Baseball Players Association has long been against blood testing.
The current drug plan and labor contract run until December 2011, but the union has said it would agree to a validated urine test for HGH.
Fahey said WADA has attempted talk with baseball and set up meetings regarding HGH but MLB has "effectively ignored us."
"Baseball is the most recalcitrant" compared with the NFL, NBA and NHL, he said. "You had the Mitchell inquiry and clear and concise recommendations from it and they effectively did nothing."
Baseball, however, did adopt many of the recommendations of former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.
In contrast, Fahey said WADA was having ongoing discussions with the NFL and has for the first time managed to "get into the front door" of the NHL to discuss the issue.
"We continue to reach out," he said. "I think the interesting thing is that we are making good progress in ice hockey."
Fahey said WADA would have to be patient in working with any sports league in the United States due to private ownership -- a contrast from most of the rest of the world where testing usually is overseen by an international federation or government testing authorities.
"They are privately owned so there is no pressure that can brought to bear," Fahey said. "The American government can't do anything about that. The [sports leagues] have to volunteer. My point is that ultimately the public will decide whether they have confidence in the way the game has been run and believe what they are seeing is the real thing."
Fahey was at the Youth Olympics in Singapore to unveil WADA's first anti-doping campaign aimed at young athletes. Called Play True Generation Program, it aims to teach athletes through a computer game the benefits of making healthy choices as well as the dangers of doping.
WADA has set up a booth in the heart of the Youth Olympic Village, offering athletes free basketball and soccer balls if they play the game and pledge not to dope. More than 3,600 athletes, ranging from 14 to 18 years, are competing in 26 sports at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press