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Players' Union to Consider Tougher Tests

March 24, 2004|Bill Shaikin

The Major League Baseball Players Assn. is prepared to consider an appeal from Commissioner Bud Selig to toughen the sport's policy on steroid testing, union chief Donald Fehr suggested Tuesday.

"You have to be willing to look at things again in light of different or changed circumstances to see if it warrants any modification," Fehr told reporters after meeting with Boston Red Sox players in Fort Myers, Fla.

The current policy has been widely criticized as weak and ineffective, in large part because first offenders are neither suspended nor identified and because testing is not conducted outside the baseball season. In a congressional hearing this month, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said "the status quo is not acceptable" and told Fehr the government might act if the union did not.

Still, on their annual tour of spring training camps, union officials have said repeatedly the current policy ought to be given a chance to play out. That policy, negotiated two years ago as part of a collective bargaining agreement between the union and management, called for survey testing with no penalties last year. More than 5% of tests were positive for steroid use, triggering random testing this year.

A first offender is subject to counseling, with no loss of pay or playing time and confidentiality preserved. Selig wants to impose the minor league policy, under which a first offender is suspended without pay for 15 days.

-- Bill Shaikin

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