Selig OK with proposed legislation

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The owners and the union have not reached an agreement on drug penalties.

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- Baseball commissioner Bud Selig supports revised congressional legislation that would suspend players for a half-season following a first failed steroids test.

Selig said negotiators for owners and players have made progress in talks but still haven't reached an agreement on a new drug deal. The length of the initial penalty appears to be the biggest obstacle.

"While it's preferable for us to solve our problems, if this goes ahead, then I said I'd support it, and I will," he said Wednesday during a news conference after his annual address to major league general managers.

Selig also maintained his opposition to using instant replay to review umpires' calls, even while acknowledging that during the postseason there were "some incidents that certainly need to be looked at."

"If you get into instant replay, you're going to have games that just go on endlessly. And that isn't in anybody's best interest," he said. "And where do you stop and where do you start it?"

Much of his news conference was devoted to steroids. Sen. Jim Bunning, a former pitcher who is in the Hall of Fame, introduced legislation along with Sen. John McCain that calls for a half-year suspension for an initial positive, a one-year ban for a second failed test and a lifetime ban for a third. The bill, which would apply to Major League Baseball, the NFL, NBA, NHL and baseball's minor leagues, urges leagues to wipe out records achieved with the help of performance-enhancing drugs.

Selig said he was willing to examine that after a new drug agreement is in place but also said there was little likelihood records would be erased.

"There's been a lot of innuendo, there's been a lot of finger-pointing, there's been a lot of accusation, but with no empirical data to support it," he said.

Under the plan agreed to earlier this year, players are suspended 10 days for an initial positive, 30 for a second, 60 for a third and one year for a fourth. Selig proposed in April that the penalties be increased to 50 games for a first offense, 100 for a second and a lifetime ban for a third. In September, the union countered with 20 games for the first positive and 75 for the second. After that, it would be up to the commissioner.

Earlier this week, Bunning and McCain changed their initial penalty from one year to half a season.

Twelve players have been suspended for 10 days each this year under the major league program.

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