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Thursday, January 13, 2005
League wanted to get steroids deal done quickly

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Amphetamines were untouched by baseball's new drug-testing agreement, with the issue left for the sport's medical advisers to study.

Some say amphetamine use is more widespread than steroid use in a sport when players are ground down by playing 162 games over 183 days during the regular season, with constant travel and all-night flights leaving many weary.

"Amphetamines, better known as 'greenies,' have a long tradition in baseball," Dr. Gary Wadler of the World Anti-Doping Agency said after baseball announced its new deal Thursday.

"Clearly they have been demonstrated in classic studies to be performance enhancing, to be a controlled substance in the United States, to have very limited therapeutic value. For them not to ban it raises questions as to the process by which they derived the list. So that disturbs me in great measure."

Amphetamines are considered a "drug of abuse" in baseball's testing program for players with minor league contracts, with a first positive test subjecting a player to counseling and a second positive test resulting in a 15-game suspension.

Victor Conte -- under federal indictment as the founder of the company Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) at the center of the steroids controversy -- termed baseball's new policy a joke in an interview with ESPN The Magazine, and cited stimulants like amphetamines as the reason why.

"The new baseball drug policy is still a joke," Conte said. "The question is why do they not ban stimulants? It is like attempting to reduce crime by banning the use of handguns, but still allowing criminals to use rifles.

"Steroids are only Schedule III drugs and stimulants are Schedule I drugs with higher abuse risk and much more severe criminal penalties. It makes no sense."

Management would have liked to have added amphetamines to the banned substance list for players with major league contracts but didn't want the issue holding up an agreement on steroids with the players' association.

Unlike major leaguers, players with minor league contracts are not unionized.

"We thought we had made very substantial progress," Rob Manfred, management's chief labor negotiator, said during a telephone interview that followed the owners' meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz. "We thought it was important to close it up on the muscle-enhancing substances."

Union head Donald Fehr, speaking from Los Angeles, did not want to address questions about amphetamines.