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Baseball turns to Google on steroids issue

Internet firm will be paid to display link to a website that informs about the health risks.

September 17, 2008|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

The young athlete interested in using steroids to enhance his performance isn't likely to talk to his coach about it. It is much easier, and more confidential, to click on Google and type this into the search box: "Where can I get steroids?"

One of the prominent answers, as of today, will be titled "The Truth About Steroids" and will link to a website produced by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

With funding from Major League Baseball, PDFA will pay Google so that anyone searching about steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs will find a link to a site that provides information on the illegal abuse of those substances and the health risks of using them.

PDFA President Steve Pasierb said Tuesday that MLB has contributed about $2 million in annual funding to his organization and has provided public service announcements on television and in print media. However, he said, research has shown that today's generation of young athletes is more likely to rely on the Internet than traditional media for information.

"Kids are really finding out about this online," Pasierb said. "It essentially amounts to fighting fire with fire."

Kids are not the only ones affected. Gary Matthews Jr. of the Angels and former Angels players Paul Byrd, Troy Glaus, Jose Guillen and Scott Schoeneweis are among the major league players linked to steroids, human growth hormone and other substances obtained from pharmacies that advertised on the Internet and allegedly shipped drugs without proof of a legitimate medical need.

The initiative is scheduled to be formally announced today. In advance of the announcement, MLB and PDFA representatives briefed Congress on Tuesday.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who gained widespread attention for his methodical and skeptical questioning of Roger Clemens in February's nationally televised hearing on steroids in baseball, applauded the initiative.

"Major League Baseball has really stepped up to the plate," Cummings said, "on fulfilling its promises to help prevent the abuse of performance-enhancing drugs by young athletes who wish to emulate their heroes."

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bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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