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Archive for Wednesday, November 21, 2007

WADA rules stricter than pro leagues’

United States drug czar Burns says baseball, football fear ‘tough, specific’ laws

November 21, 2007

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America's deputy drug czar sees the Barry Bonds indictment as a success, the upcoming Mitchell report on steroids in baseball as a positive and envisions a day when all pro sports will sign onto the World Anti-Doping Agency's rules.

"They don't want to sign on right now, because it's tough and it's specific. And there are consequences and it can be monitored, and people will be caught and cheaters will be punished," White House deputy drug czar Scott Burns said Tuesday. "But will they sign on eventually? Just about everyone in the world has."

The Mitchell report, expected to be released by the end of the year, likely will add more names to the list of baseball players linked to performance-enhancing drugs.

Burns recognizes some will view it "as a negative or another black eye" when the report is released.

"But I think it's something positive we can build on with the leagues."

Burns spent last week in Madrid, Spain, at the world doping conference and said he left believing that the United States leads the world in the fight against drugs in sports.

WADA chairman Dick Pound, whose term expires at the end of the year, has been critical of baseball's efforts, saying it was disappointing that the sport and the players' union have "made such a concerted and expensive effort to keep the names of its players who have been involved in this confidential."

Burns criticized Pound for posturing on the baseball issue, but also sounded some criticism of his own.

"They've got a long way to go," he said of all American pro sports.

The NFL's drug policy bans players for four games after a first positive steroids test and goes after portions of players' salaries and signing bonuses. At the beginning of 2007, the league announced a more extensive testing policy and added the blood-boosting substance EPO to its list of banned substances. Still, it falls short of WADA's international standards, which call for a two-year suspension for a first-time offender and a lifetime ban for a second offense.

The NFL also has not signed on to submitting players to the developing test for human growth hormone.

"We work closely with WADA and USADA in several ways, but we do not expect the full WADA code to be adopted by the NFL," spokesman Greg Aiello said. "Our current policy allows for a tailored approach that addresses the specific issues relating to professional football. For example, we have been able to add new substances to our prohibited list more quickly than would be the case under WADA, and we can adjudicate appeals in a more expeditious way."

Baseball, meanwhile, has moved reluctantly toward drug testing, starting with survey testing in 2003 and testing with penalties the following year.

In 2005, 12 players with major league contracts were suspended 10 days each. Since a tougher policy was enacted in 2006, eight suspensions have been handed out to players with major league contracts, most following positive tests for performance-enhancers. Baseball has banned but does not test for HGH.

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