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For integrity of game, MLB must test for steroids

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

May 30
Just what baseball needed ... another controversy.

Former stars Jose Canseco and 1996 NL MVP Ken Caminiti have come out and claimed that steroid use is rampant in baseball. Canseco was one of the game's premier home run hitters during his time, and he said 85 percent of the players were using performance-enhancing drugs. Caminiti stated that 50 percent used steroids, though he backtracked from that statement during an interview on Dan Patrick's radio show, saying that he knew a few players who used the drug.

Could it be that baseball doesn't want to test for steroids because it doesn't want to lose the home run?
Baseball, unlike the NFL or NBA, does not test for steroids. Think about what these statements have done to the image of the game of baseball. If you turn on a sports talk radio program, steroid use in baseball is the No. 1 topic. They dissect the comments of Canseco and Caminiti.

To me, Canseco isn't going to make it to the Hall of Fame, so the quickest way to make news is to announce he's working on a book. His revelations have created a buzz across America. With the potential of another labor stoppage looming in baseball, these comments are another disaster for the sport.

The game should be prospering now, with stars like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez and company performing and excelling. Instead, comments by ex-players are throwing the game into turmoil. Think about how strong these statements are. I'm not na´ve enough to believe that there aren't any players using steroids. But how can guys make statements about 50 or 85 percent? Think about the indictment of so many innocent players who don't use steroids, yet they get lumped in because of irresponsible remarks.

I recently attended a Tampa Bay Devil Rays-Seattle Mariners game, and I heard comments from fans near me. As various players went to the plate, fans were yelling out, asking if they were on steroids. It was incredible! It's wrong to indict everyone. If Canseco and Caminiti want to be taken seriously, why don't they name individuals they've seen use steroids? Make it specific so every player in uniform isn't indicted.

Isn't it time for Major League Baseball to step up like other leagues and test for steroids? Bonds and Sosa have said they don't use steroids, claiming their physical conditioning programs and other workout regimens made the difference. All the home-run hitters will be scrutinized and stared at. I say, start the testing. These stars should want to prove that they aren't using steroids.

I know there's an argument that using steroids isn't a violation of any rule, but don't kid yourself -- this taints the game. If it provides an advantage, there's no doubt it's cheating. It's a bad message to send to the youth of America, who watch the game so closely. It's time for commissioner Bud Selig and Donald Fehr of the players' union to clean up the sport and not indict innocent, hard-working players.

Isn't it time for Major League Baseball to step up like other leagues and test for steroids?
Could it be that baseball doesn't want to test for steroids because it doesn't want to lose the home run? There's so much excitement and publicity given the home run these days. Also, if steroids were banned, how many stars would have to go to the sidelines? It could affect dollars, baby, and it could cut down ticket sales. It often comes down to the dollars, the piles of green, baby!

I know that if I were a player today -- and I was clean and did things the right way -- I would be furious, agitated and going absolutely bananas about the statements by Canseco and Caminiti. If I were busting my gut to be the best player I could be, I wouldn't want to have anyone questioning my ability being aided by drugs.

It's time for baseball to face this situation, because it won't go away. For the integrity of the game, it's time to prove that those statements are inaccurate.

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