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Drug Issue in Sports: Time to Come Clean One Way or Another

February 02, 1985

I was bitterly disappointed when the Los Angeles Dodgers backed down on taking drug tests as a prerequisite for a contract. If they hadn't, the players threatened to strike. Well, isn't that a shame! These pampered millionaires, hiding behind the phony right of privacy, have decided that urinating in a paper cup is beneath their dignity. To my way of thinking, it's as Mike Marshall said: "I have no objection. I don't take drugs."

As far as I'm concerned, when a person declines to take a test, he's taking some sort of medication.

MATT MILLER

Palm Springs

Scott Ostler's non sequitur on his coffee habit in preface to a diatribe on drug use sounds like the bigot who assures us he has black friends, then criticizes government programs which promote equality among races.

Ostler is way off base. How silly to think that just because you buy a $10 ticket to watch a sporting event, you should have some kind of right to dictate life styles to the participants. Ostler speaks not as a fan, but as a sportswriter whose job it is to dig dirt and ask questions later.

When I was kid, was I supposed to appreciate a Mickey Mantle home run any less (or more) because he hit it while suffering from hangover? In those days, I never had to read about such things in the paper the next day and I'm not sure why, though I have my suspicions: It has not to do with the athletes, but the writers. Why can't Ostler take a lesson from his colleague Jim Murray and write beautifully and concisely about athletic performance instead of dredging for National Enquirer fodder?

NICK JOHNSON

San Diego

Imagine going to sleep one night in 1970 and waking up to your morning sports section on, let's say, Jan. 26, 1985. Fifteen years have passed, but this must be fiction. Seven million dollars for five years of football, to a rookie no less. I mean this guy, Doug Flutie, isn't even 5-10. I'm sure the guy is good, but this can't be true.

All right, OK, inflation, salaries are out of hand. What else is there? The Dodgers are trying to sign a guy they think might use drugs. Is that right? It sure sounds that way. And what's this other article? Drug testing needed for baseball's image. Don't tell me players all wear long sleeves now to cover up needle marks. Or maybe they have extra pockets for drug paraphernalia. This way they won't have to go to the dugout in between innings. They could have something called designated hitters.

Maybe I'll get some back issues of the sports section. Maybe some from a few days or weeks ago. Watch, there will be a story about a 6-9 basketball player playing guard and making $2.5 million. He'd better be a clutch player. Or maybe I'll read something real trashy. Perhaps a story on athletes and cocaine, athletes and hookers, athletes and athletes.

This is some sports section. The newspaper used to cost 10 cents, but I can handle paying a quarter. I mean, look at all the sports I get to read about.

JONATHAN FLECK

Santa Monica

The rights that are violated by mandatory drug testing are not Steve Howe's rights to snort cocaine in the bullpen. They are the rights of all the professional athletes who don't indulge in drugs to be treated as human beings instead of cattle. While it may not be degrading to make Steve Howe urinate in a bottle, what about Steve Garvey?

HICK HANSEN JR.

Torrance

I enjoyed reading Scott Ostler's views favoring mandatory drug testing. When I grew up, you did not have to worry about my heroes like Sandy Koufax and Jerry West being on drugs.

I have two young sons, and rather than have them look up to just any athlete, I would prefer that their heroes would be deserving. This is a responsibility that previous stars realized. Hopefully, today's heroes know this also!

NATHAN J. GLEIBERMANN

Beverly Hills

Regarding Scott Ostler's column about drug testing of athletes: Right on!

JAMES A. DAVID

Los Angeles

Theismann's Marriage Not for Sports Pages

I am appalled at the appearance of the story about Joe Theismann's marital difficulties in The Times. I have been reading your sports section since I came here in 1967. I had thought it was the finest in the country. And now you print something that belongs in the National Enquirer. What a disappointment! His family problems are no one's business.

B. J. JENNINGS

Huntington Beach

Story on Harry Usher Missed Some Fine Points

I read Kenneth Reich's article about the appointment of Harry Usher as commissioner of the USFL, and it appears that the article was written by an uninformed individual who know nothing about the very fine qualities, skills and character of Harry Usher.

The USFL chose Harry because of his phenomenal contributions during four years of hard work, including nights, weekends and holidays during which he and his colleague, Peter Ueberroth, made a fantastic team to create the most successful Olympic games in modern history.

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