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Sunday, October 1, 2023


Staff Editorial: Congressional inquiry into steroid abuse shouldn’t be necessary

Major League Baseball – it’s so important that Capitol Hill has crossed the chalk line to help regulate the sport’s steroid and human growth hormone issue. When it’s finished, it will surely get back to other less important issues such as the war in Iraq, the economy and immigration.

On Wednesday, Major League pitcher Roger Clemens and his former personal trainer Brian McNamee sat in front of the Congressional Committee on Government and Oversight Reform for more than four hours defending their respective stances: Clemens says he has never used performance-enhancing drugs, while McNamee says he has injected them into Clemens’ body.

It will be up to Congress to decide who is truthful and then take the appropriate measures to punish the dishonest party. Once it is are finished with them, it will most likely have to visit with other ballplayers who disagree with the accusations made against them in former Sen. George Mitchell’s report investigating the use of performance enhancers in the sport – another instance where elected officials are performing duties they shouldn’t be.

The Oversight Reform Committee states on its Web site that it has jurisdiction to investigate any federal program and any matter with federal policy implications. The last time we checked, MLB was an organization, not a federal program.

The presence of performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports is disturbing and should be looked at very intensely, as it has affected the lives of many athletes, old and young. However, MLB should be conducting this in its own manner, not bothering Congress with its problems. If not, what’s to stop baseball or any other sport from involving Washington with its other problems?

MLB’s biggest issue with in-house discipline is the MLB Players Association. In 1991, former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent distributed a drug policy stating that all illegal substances were prohibited. In January 2005, current commissioner Bud Selig introduced a tougher policy and followed that with an even harder-hitting policy in spring 2006.

However, all of these policies had to meet the demands of the MLBPA and probably had certain punishments either reduced or removed completely.

If it were up to baseball, players would be subject to more frequent drug tests and harsher penalties for disobeying the drug policy. The MLBPA has seen to it that no new rules are passed without its approval. These positions need to be changed. If the players want to play, they should be following any rules that are set down by MLB.

If Congress has to be involved, it should be realigning the chain of command within the league. Other than that, Congress belongs in white buildings in Washington, not on the green grass of baseball stadiums.

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