NEW YORK -- A New York congressman reintroduced legislation Tuesday to criminalize andro, the steroidlike substance Mark McGwire used the season he hit 70 home runs.
Rep. John E. Sweeney, speaking during a news conference at the
baseball commissioner's office, also criticized the baseball
players' association as an obstacle.
"It's a small group of people at the top of the union, because
of their own particular self-interests, are really the obstacles
here," Sweeney said. "It's not Major League Baseball that's
obstructing," he added, saying the union "leadership chooses to
ignore their own membership ... and isn't concerned about the
overriding public health issue."
Gene Orza, the chief operating officer of the players'
association, said Sweeney inaccurately described the union's
"We have no objection to the passage of the bill he is
co-sponsoring, and no self-interest in the matter whatsoever -- unless he equates protecting the right of players to take whatever
he can with self-interest," Orza said in an e-mail.
Sweeney, a New York Republican, introduced similar legislation
in previous years to ban androstenedione and other steroid
precursors, but those bills failed. While in the past he attempted
to define steroid precursors broadly, his latest bill specifically
defines a list of substances to be banned.
It is supported by House Judiciary Committee chairman F. James
Sensenbrenner Jr. and John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., the ranking
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, who banned players with minor
league contracts from using andro, also backed the legislation.
"The illegal use of steroids and other performance-enhancing
substances is detrimental to the integrity of the game and the
long-term health of the athletes who use them," Selig said in a
Andro is not classified as a steroid, and players with major
league contracts may use it. In 1999, a year after hitting a
then-record 70 homers, McGwire gave up andro, saying he didn't want
kids to take it because he did.
Much of the news conference was devoted to discussions of the
federal grand jury investigation in California. Barry Bonds'
trainer, Greg Anderson, was indicted on charges of illegally
distributing steroids to athletes. Anderson has denied the charges.
Bonds, who broke McGwire's record by hitting 73 in 2001, was
among those called to testify before the grand jury. Jason Giambi
and Gary Sheffield also testified -- all three have denied using
"Are we concerned about the impact this might have on the game?
Yes. But we're also not ready to prejudge anyone as a result of
what's come out so far," said Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief
operating officer. "Other than Mark McGwire admitting that he used
andro, we don't have any established evidence that any player used
any particular substance or that it had an impact on that
particular player's performance during any given year."
Sweeney said players "involved in illegal substances" should
have an asterisk placed next to their names.
"The trick to this thing is that some of these substances at
different periods of time were not illegal or were not
detectable," he said.
DuPuy said baseball officials had discussed whether the grand
jury investigation was sufficient for them to invoke a provision in
baseball's labor contract allowing even more frequent testing "for
cause" but said no decision had been made.