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October 10, 2000|LARRY STEWART

What: "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel"

Where: HBO, tonight, 10

When you think of steroid use you probably think of the Olympics, or football. But it is also a widespread problem in professional baseball, and that is the lead topic in the latest edition of HBO's award-winning sports journalism program.

Texas Ranger outfielders Chad Curtis and Gabe Kapler, interviewed for the segment reported by Armen Keteyian, are, in essence, unofficial spokesmen for players who are seeking a level playing field. The players' union doesn't allow random testing in baseball. But these two well-built players agree to let HBO test them. The results are negative.

Curtis says players on steroids "are taking money out of my family's pocket because they are better than I am. I am sick and tired of competing against guys juiced up on illegal stuff. Now, am I going to make enemies by saying that? Yeah. The enemies that I'm going to make are guys who are cheating. Do I care if they don't like what I'm saying? No, because they are cheating."

Says Kapler, a former star at Taft High in Woodland Hills and Moorpark College: "The guys using steroids are completely open. . . . And I think the reason for that is they don't mind anybody knowing because it is so spread out now. There's a lot of people doing it."

Gene Orza, associate general counsel for the players' union, argues that there is no evidence that steroids help one become a better baseball player. Dr. Charles Yesalis, author of "Anabolic Steroids in Sports and Exercise," calls that kind of thinking "ludicrous," pointing out steroids "make you bigger and stronger."

The Dodgers' Gary Sheffield, asked how many players per team are using steroids, says, "about six or seven."

The second segment deals with another important issue--parental rage. It opens with an interview of a soccer referee who was beaten by an angry parent.

There is also a story on Miami Dolphin kicking coach Doug Blevins, who was born with cerebral palsy and works from a wheelchair. The final segment is on Mark Messier and his return to the New York Rangers.

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