Selig proposes harsher penalties for steroids

Sunday, May 1, 2005

NEW YORK -- Baseball commissioner Bud Selig asked players to agree to a 50-game suspension for first-time steroid offenders and a lifetime ban for a third violation under what he called a "three strikes and you are out approach" to doping.

In a letter sent this week to union head Donald Fehr, Selig proposed a 100-game ban for a second offense. He also asked the union to ban amphetamines, to have more frequent random tests and to appoint an independent person to administer the major league drug-testing program.

"Third offenders should be banned permanently. I recognize the need for progressive discipline, but a third-time offender has no place in the game," Selig wrote to Fehr. "Steroid users cheat the game. After three offenses, they have no place in it."

Under the rules that began this season, a first offense gets a 10-day suspension, with the penalty increasing to 30 days for a second positive test, 60 days for a third and one year for a fourth. For a fifth positive, the penalty is at the commissioner's discretion.

Baseball currently has no penalties for amphetamine use by players on 40-man major league rosters. Amphetamines are banned for players under minor league contracts.

"Last winter, we reopened our agreement to deal with steroids," Selig wrote in the April 25 letter, a copy of which was obtained Saturday by The Associated Press. "I am asking you now to demonstrate once again to America that our relationship has improved to the point that we can act quickly and effectively deal with matters affecting the integrity of our great sport."

Reached Saturday, Fehr said the union was not yet prepared to discuss Selig's proposal.

"We'll respond in due course," Fehr said, adding he anticipated replying early this week.

Some players began thinking about Selig's proposal Saturday.

"That would get it out of the game -- in a heartbeat," Kansas City Royals pitcher Brian Anderson said.

New York Yankees player representative Mike Mussina said he wanted to study the proposal before responding.

"I don't know if Bud's trying to get out in front and make us the good guys or the bad guys," said New York Mets pitcher Tom Glavine, a senior union leader.

"I happen to be able to believe that our program is a good one and if we leave it alone, it's going to do what we want it to do," Glavine told the AP in Washington. "But if everybody has their mind set on making it tougher, then you're going to have to take the time, continue to look at it, and continue to look at alternatives. It's not something you can expect to happen in two weeks or two months. It's going to take a while, but I still think that it's something, that if it's deemed to be changed, you can probably get something done by next season."

"I continue to believe that time is of the essence in addressing this issue," Selig wrote to Fehr.

Selig disclosed the letter in a memorandum the commissioner sent Friday to team executives.

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