Sun, Jun 27, 2004 - Page 22 News List

League bans use of infamous andro steroid

AP , PHILADELPHIA

With little fanfare, Major League Baseball and its players have banned the use of andro, the steroid pre-cursor made famous by Mark McGwire when he hit 70 home runs in 1998.

The ban, which began this season, was never announced by the commissioner's office or the players' association. Bob DuPuy, MLB's chief operating officer, referred to it Friday during a panel discussion at the annual meeting of the Associated Press Sports Editors.

"I think it's a good thing," Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina said later in the day in New York. "It's still one of many things to be done."

The US government's Food and Drug Administration banned the sale of androstenedione as of April 12. MLB's decision, confirmed by management lawyer Frank Coonelly and union lawyer Michael Weiner, took effect the same day and means players who test positive for andro face penalties, including suspensions after two positive tests.

"Baseball has made key progress on several points," DuPuy said, defending the organization's drug policy, which has been criticized by many in the International Olympic Committee as being too lax.

1999 study

Coonelly and Weiner said that based on the FDA decision and a study conducted by Harvard University in 1999 that was financed by MLB, it's union and management concluded andro acted like an androgenic anabolic steroid and should be added to the sport's list of banned substances.

Andro is used by the body to make testosterone. Congress is considering legislation that would designate andro and more than two dozen other steroidlike supplements as controlled substances -- making them available by prescription only under certain conditions.

In survey tests last year, 5-to-7 percent of samples were positive, triggering testing with penalties this year. A first positive test would result in treatment and a second in a 15-day suspension or fine of up to US$10,000.

Action plan

* In survey tests last year, 5 percent to 7 percent of samples were positive

* A first positive test would result in treatment and a second in a 15-day suspension or fine of up to US$10,000

* The length of suspensions would increase to 25 days for a third positive test, 50 days for a fourth and one year for a fifth


The length of suspensions would increase to 25 days for a third positive test, 50 days for a fourth and one year for a fifth. These suspensions also would be without pay.

New York Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield, among the players who testified before a federal grand jury in California investigating illegal steroid distribution, was not aware of the decision.

"I think it's a good move, but I thought it was already done," said the New York Mets' Todd Zeile. "I thought they had done it the year after Mark McGwire in 1998."

McGwire stopped taking andro the following year, saying he did not want kids to follow his lead.

Also appearing on the panel were Dr. Gary Wadler, a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency's medical research committee; former Pittsburgh Steeler Steve Courson, who has admitted using steroids; and Steve Holman, a former middle-distance runner who is an athlete ambassador for the US Anti-Doping Agency.

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