Other league heads to be contacted also
The same congressional committee that conducted hearings into steroids in baseball has asked NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue for information about how football regulates the performance-enhancing substances.
The Government Reform Committee also said Thursday it will ask for similar data from the NBA, NHL, NCAA, U.S. Track and Field and Major League Soccer.
“ New information has called into question the effectiveness of the NFL drug policy. I'm pleased that our committee will closely look at that policy as part of our continuing investigation into steroid use in sports. ” — Rep. Henry Waxman, ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee
NBA spokesperson Tim Frank told ESPN.com's Marc Stein the NBA had not been contacted yet, but would cooperate if called.
"We have not received a letter yet to my knowledge," Frank said Thursday night. "But if asked, we would of course cooperate with a congressional request."
Tagliabue responded in a letter that he has directed his staff to be fully responsive to the committee's request.
It's not known whether the NHL has been formally contacted by Congress but a league source told Scott Burnside on Thursday that until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached between the league and NHL players, the issue of performance-enhancing drugs is "moot."
"As the committee has stated publicly numerous times, its focus on the performance-enhancing drug use in sports is not limited to professional baseball," the committee said in a letter signed by committee chairman Rep. Tom Davis and ranking Democrat Rep. Henry Waxman.
"As part of this investigation, we are requesting basic information on steroid policies from a number of sports leagues."
The committee asked the NFL to provide details on the testing procedures and how they were negotiated between the league and the union. It also requested summaries of all test results during the time the testing has taken place, although not the names of individual players. The committee set next Friday as the deadline for the league to provide it with the information.
"New information has called into question the effectiveness of the NFL drug policy," Waxman said in a statement Thursday. "I'm pleased that our committee will closely look at that policy as part of our continuing investigation into steroid use in sports."
The letter to the NFL comes a day after CBS' "60 Minutes Wednesday" reported that Panthers punter Todd Sauerbrun and center Jeff Mitchell and former offensive lineman Todd Steussie filled testosterone cream prescriptions during the 2003 season, when the team went to the Super Bowl.
Steroids Policies Of The MLB And NFL* MLB NFL Frequency of tests At least once a year Once a year Penalty for 1st offense 10-day suspension 4-game suspension Penalty for 2nd offense 30-day suspension 6-game suspension Penalty for 3rd offense 60-day suspension Min. 1-year suspension *All suspensions without pay
In addition to the cream, which is banned by the NFL, Sauerbrun also reportedly obtained syringes and the injectable steroid Stanozolol, which is banned by the league.
The NFL has had random testing for steroids for the past 15 years. A total of 44 players have been suspended during that period for using the performance-enhancing substances.
The NFL has proposed toughening its testing standards to conform with a change in standards by the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee. That change has to be approved by the NFL Players Association, whose executive director, Gene Upshaw, is a former offensive lineman who has been outspoken about the use of the substances in the sport.
It's not known whether the NHL has been formally contacted by Congress but a league source said Thursday that until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached between the league and NHL players, the issue of performance-enhancing drugs is "moot."
The players were locked out Sept. 16 and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman canceled the 2004-05 season on February 16. The two sides in the dispute are scheduled to meet again Monday but there is little optimism an agreement will be reached prior to the scheduled start of the 2005-06 season.
NBA commissioner David Stern said at last month's NBA All-Star Weekend in Denver that he doesn't believe his league has a steroid issue but added that he was prepared to take whatever measures were necessary to "eliminate that even as a question."
Said Stern: "I'm not concerned now that there are (steroid) problems, but watching what's swirling around (in other sports) it just seems to be prudent to say, 'Let's just get that issue out of any possibility.' It's not a problem at the present time that we think we have. But it's a potent issue as it relates to baseball and the media around it, and we think it would be smart of us to deal with it."
The NHL does not test for performance-enhancing drugs although executive vice-president and chief legal officer Bill Daly has said he believes the league will have a comprehensive drug testing policy when the new CBA is reached. It's also believed a policy is in place and ready to be presented to the union and that the union will embrace such a policy.
"I do anticipate that when we conclude our agreement on the economic issues that we will have a full drug policy as part of that agreement," Daly told The Associated Press several weeks ago.
Daly also issued a statement decrying the use of performance-enhancing drugs following the release of a book in Quebec by a former hockey enforcer, Dave 'Moose' Morissette that detailed his use of stimulants and steroids.
Shortly after the release of the book Los Angeles Kings defenseman Stephane Quintal told LaPresse newspaper in Quebec that he estimated 40 percent of NHL players he knew used stimulants. Quintal described using over-the-counter stimulants like ephedrine and binge-drinking coffee to get pumped up before games.
Quintal, a 17-year-veteran, told the paper he doesn't believe anabolic steroids are an issue except perhaps for enforcers looking to bulk up. He did say he believes players who use performance-enhancing drugs in the NHL should be subject to harsh punishment.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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