Rogge: MLB players need to be available for Olympics

Updated: October 19, 2006, 12:15 PM ET
Associated Press

TOKYO -- IOC president Jacques Rogge says baseball still has work to do before it can be reinstated at the Olympics.

Baseball and softball were dropped from the Olympics after the 2008 Beijing Games in an IOC vote last year. Baseball has been an Olympic sport since 1992, but will not be part of the 2012 London Games.

"Baseball could come back if they address some issues, of which the first one is to make sure that the best players can participate in the Games and that we will have the stars of Major League Baseball," Rogge said Thursday at a news conference.

Major League Baseball doesn't allow players on 40-man major league rosters to go to the Olympics. The Americans didn't even qualify for the Athens Games, eliminated with a 2-1 loss to Mexico in a qualifier.

The earliest baseball can win reinstatement is 2009, when the IOC considers the sports program for the 2016 Games.

"The second issue we want to see resolved is the attitude of MLB toward doping," Rogge added. "We see progress there and we're glad to see progress in the fight against doping."

MLB players and owners agreed to toughen penalties for doping to a 50-game suspension for a first failed test, up from a 10-game suspension.

Rogge said it's a step in the right direction but doesn't go far enough.

"There is still a big gap between the rules of the MLBPA and the WADA anti-doping code," Rogge said. "If an athlete under the jurisdiction of WADA is caught for anabolic steroids, he will have a suspension of two years. This is not the case in the major leagues where they suspend players for a number of matches."

As for softball, Rogge said the issue there is one of "universality" and he said he'd like to see the sport played in more countries before it gets back into the Games.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press