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Congress continues hearings on steroids

5/11/2005

NEW YORK -- NBA commissioner David Stern will testify before
Congress next week about his league's drug-testing policy, making
him the third head of a major U.S. sport called before lawmakers
investigating steroids.

NBA vice president Rick Buchanan also will appear before the
House Government Reform Committee on May 19, league spokesman Tim
Frank said Wednesday, adding others might testify, too.

Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, other officials
and current and former players appeared before the committee on
March 17. Lawmakers roundly chastised the sport for what they said
was a lenient steroids policy; Selig has since proposed making the
punishments tougher and banning amphetamines.

Next up was the NFL and commissioner Paul Tagliabue. That league
strengthened its drug program on the eve of its April 27 trip to
Capitol Hill, and congressmen praised the NFL for having a better
program than baseball.

Lawmakers have said they are drafting legislation to establish
uniform drug-testing rules for major U.S. sports, though any such
bill would be expected to face an uphill fight in Washington.

The NBA currently suspends first-time offenders of its steroids
policy for five games. But only two players -- Matt Geiger and Don
MacLean -- are believed to have been suspended for steroid use since
the NBA implemented its current policy in 1999.

Stern has said he would like to strengthen testing for
performance-enhancing drugs in the league's new collective
bargaining agreement, which is currently being negotiated with the
players' union. A formal proposal from the union is expected any
day, and owners and players are scheduled to meet in New York on
May 17.

"It's incumbent upon every sport to just have rules that
demonstrate to their fans that, if you're in the NBA, you submit to
a certain amount of testing," Stern said last month. "It's really
a covenant with the fans, especially the young ones."