Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bud Selig: Mr. Upbeat [J. Mark English]

Jack Curry, New York Times --

PITTSBURGH, July 11 — Commissioner Bud Selig wanted to talk about the increased attendance in Major League Baseball, the boost in revenues and the marquee players who were playing in the All-Star Game on Tuesday night at PNC Park. But Selig, who is typically optimistic, was realistic enough to know he had to address other topics, too.
Selig discussed those subjects, ranging from Barry Bonds to performance-enhancing substances to the next labor contract. “There are always going to be problems,” Selig said.
Of course, one of the problems hovering over baseball is the past and the present use of performance-enhancing drugs. Federal agents said last month that Jason Grimsley of the Arizona Diamondbacks told them that he used steroids, amphetamines and human growth hormone, and that other players did as well.
Selig noted how the owners and the players union had amended the drug-testing policy twice in the last two years and had banished amphetamines this season. He also reacted to criticism that the sport waited too long to punish players who used performance enhancers.
“In the end, I think we reacted as quickly as we could,” Selig said.
If a player tests positive for amphetamines for the first time this year, he is not identified. Selig cited the agreement with the players union in refusing to divulge if any players have tested positive for amphetamines, but he seemed to indicate that there had been positives by saying the policy was working.
Selig said that team trainers and doctors he spoke to last year told him they considered amphetamines more of an issue than human growth hormone. There is no reliable test for human growth hormone. Selig said he was chilled after one conversation with a medical professional about amphetamines.
“One of the doctors said to me, ‘If you don’t do something about this, someone is going to die,’ ” Selig said.