Sunday, March 20, 2005
McCain: Law for all sports should be considered
WASHINGTON -- Saying Major League Baseball "can't be
trusted," Sen. John McCain warned Sunday that legislation might be
needed to force the sport to change its steroids policy.
What do we need to do? It seems to me that we ought to seriously consider ... a law that says all professional sports have a minimum level of performance-enhancing drug testing. "
--Sen. John McCain
The Arizona Republican joined the chorus of congressmen
expressing disappointment with baseball's drug-testing plan after
testimony from commissioner Bud Selig and union head Donald Fehr at
the House Government Reform Committee hearing on steroids Thursday.
"It just seems to me they can't be trusted," McCain told ABC's
"What do we need to do? It seems to me that we ought to
seriously consider ... a law that says all professional sports have
a minimum level of performance-enhancing drug testing," McCain
Committee chairman Tom Davis, R-Va., said on CBS' "Face the
Nation" that he agreed with McCain's suggestion that the U.S.
Anti-Doping Agency could be called in to govern baseball's testing.
The independent agency oversees drug testing and discipline for
U.S. Olympic athletes.
Davis, whose committee subpoenaed current and former stars and
baseball executives to testify Thursday, said he's willing to wait
and see how Major League Baseball handles drug testing and
punishment in 2005.
"They've got this season. We'll see how they respond when they
find someone testing positive," Davis told CBS.
Asked about possible government intervention, baseball's
executive vice president for labor relations, Rob Manfred, told
CBS, "Commissioner Selig said unequivocally in the hearing that if
Congress decides that federal legislation is appropriate, that he
would be supportive."
In March 2004, McCain's Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing
on steroids in baseball, pressure that helped lead to the
drug-testing plan that owners and players agreed to in January.
Several lawmakers were particularly critical of two provisions
in that agreement: one that allows players to be fined instead of
suspended for failing a drug test, and another that calls for
testing to be suspended if there's a government investigation.
"I was a little dubious about the necessity of having hearings,
because I had been told that baseball had installed a weak, but
legitimate, regimen," McCain said. "I now applaud my colleagues
in the House, because what this highlighted was the absolute
insensitivity of both the owners and the players to the American
He also offered advice to Mark McGwire, the retired slugger who
repeatedly evaded questions about his and others' steroid use.
"The first thing Mark McGwire should do is get himself a new
lawyer," McCain said. "I was saddened by what he had to say, and
it's unfortunate, because he's one of America's heroes."