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Now Baseball May Get Tested

Selig wants to toughen up on steroids after reports that Giambi admitted steroid use to grand jury and Bonds admitted using substances from his trainer.

December 03, 2004|Tim Brown | Times Staff Writer

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig on Thursday called again for more stringent drug testing at the major league level, hours after it was reported that New York Yankee first baseman Jason Giambi told a federal grand jury that he had used performance-enhancing drugs, and shortly before a second report detailing Barry Bonds' testimony in the same steroid scandal.

In testimony a year ago before a panel investigating allegations of illegal steroid distribution, Giambi, a former American League most valuable player, said he had used human growth hormone in 2003 and taken steroids for at least three years, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Some of the drugs, Giambi said, were supplied by Greg Anderson, the personal trainer of Bonds, the San Francisco Giant slugger. Neither Giambi nor Anderson could be reached for comment Thursday.

According to today's editions of the Chronicle, Bonds admitted to using two substances -- one he took orally, another he rubbed into his body -- obtained from Anderson, but claimed he did not believe they were steroids.

In testimony taken Dec. 4, 2003, a week before Giambi sat before the same jury, Bonds was presented with documents prosecutors believed detailed his use of a handful of performance-enhancing drugs, according to the Chronicle, including human growth hormone and those known as "the cream" and "the clear."

The report stated Bonds denied the charges. Bonds' attorney, Michael Rains, told the newspaper, "My view has always been this case has been the U.S. vs. Bonds, and I think the government has moved in certain ways in a concerted effort to indict my client. And I think their failure to indict him has resulted in their attempts to smear him publicly."

Giambi also previously denied allegations of steroid use. Anderson has denied providing illegal substances to anyone. Anderson and three other men associated with the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, known as BALCO, have pleaded not guilty to federal steroid distribution charges, and are awaiting trial.

Also Thursday, former world sprint champion Kelli White told The Times that she used illegal performance-enhancing drugs provided by BALCO owner Victor Conte, and ABC News released partial transcripts of an interview it had with Conte in which he claims he provided steroids and other banned substances to Olympic track and field star Marion Jones.

After addressing business leaders in Washington, where baseball is backing a relocation of the Montreal Expos, Selig released a statement reacting to the Chronicle story about Giambi. It read, in part: "This once again demonstrates the need to implement a tougher and more effective Major League drug-testing program. I have instructed Rob Manfred, executive vice president of labor relations, to look into this situation and to continue working with the Major League Baseball Players Assn. to have a drug-testing program that mirrors the very effective policy we currently have in the minor leagues. I will leave no stone unturned in accomplishing our goal of zero tolerance by the start of spring training and am confident we will achieve this goal."

Amid speculation they might try to void or buy out Giambi's contract -- he has five years and $84.5 million remaining on a seven-year, $120-million deal signed after the 2001 season -- Yankee officials met Thursday in New York with baseball representatives. Major League Baseball might seek to discipline Giambi, whose alleged drug use occurred since the league outlawed steroids in 2003.

Selig told reporters in Washington that he hoped to have the minor league program instituted at the major league level by spring training. In a plan established four years ago, minor leaguers are tested in and out of season four times for prohibited substances. A player testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs is suspended for 15 games, a second positive brings a 30-game suspension, a third 60 games, and a fourth incurs a year suspension. The player is banned for life on the fifth positive test.

Human growth hormone is not specifically banned by the major leagues.

Major League Baseball and the players' union have been unable to agree to revisions of the original policy, though discussions are continuing. According to one baseball official, the quarrel lies primarily among the leaders of the union.

Steve Greenberg, deputy to former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent and once a player agent, said, "I would agree with the commissioner that this is just unacceptable.... The problem is, the perception among a great many fans and people is the process that was agreed upon in the current collective-bargaining agreement was inadequate and doesn't really address the issue."

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