The House Governmental Reform Committee had its day on Thursday, as it heard from grieving parents of high-school and college steroid abusers, and from Major League Baseball players and management. Despite assurances and facts like the 12 positive results out of over 1000 tests in 2004 suggesting baseball’s current plan is working, by the end of a long day of testimony, committee members seemed set on imposing a drug testing policy across all levels of all US sports.
The gathered media peaked in number when the players entered the committee room, but were denied any revelations or fireworks. As Jose Canseco, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, Curt Schilling and Frank Thomas made their opening remarks, each either denied using steroids or stated their refusal to speak further regarding specifics of use. Several weak attempts at a better answer from McGwire aside, most of the players’ time was spent answering a series of polls as to whether they would all support stricter testing.
The committee then grilled MLB management over what Sen. Jim Bunning (in a cameo appearance) called the “baby steps” taken so far to weed out steroid users. Members went back and forth with Bud Selig, President/CEO Rob Manfred and MLB Players’ Association head Don Fehr over the unfinished state of the current drug testing policy.
The final session peaked with a heated exchange between Manfred and Rep. Christopher Shays. “The commissioner announced this policy in January, and you’re telling me that the document wasn’t drafted until March,” Shays said. “All you do by your answers is make me want to know more and more what the hell you do.” There are baseball fans who’ve been asking that for years…