MLB owners to ratify new drug policy

May 14, 2008 5:02:22 PM PDT
Bud Selig expects owners to approve a toughened drug agreement when they meet Thursday. "We have no controversy. None. Zero," the baseball commissioner said Wednesday as the two-day session began.

Players and owners have until May 23 to ratify the drug agreement their negotiators signed off on last month. The deal increases the frequency of tests and the authority of the program's independent administrator.

Selig, however, didn't want to discuss this week's new indictment of home-run king Barry Bonds, charged Wednesday in federal court with 14 counts of making a false declaration to a grand jury and one count of obstruction of justice. Bonds has denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs.

"It doesn't go away," Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane said. "I don't think it has any effect on the game right now, because I think that's an issue that Barry Bonds and his legal team need to deal with."

McLane said the public has "kind of moved on" from Bonds' legal troubles, but still hopes they come to an end soon.

"I hope this can be resolved," McLane said. "It needs to be resolved. It's been lingering for several years."

Bonds was not offered a new contract by San Francisco after last season and has not been signed by another team. The players' association last week expressed concern to the commissioner's office over the lack of offers to Bonds, asking for additional information about the offseason's free-agent market but stopping short of filing a collusion grievance on Bonds' behalf.

Selig declined comment on the collusion issue.

McLane said the Astros never considered signing Bonds, noting that Houston has plenty of talented outfielders.

"I think if you look at his age, his injuries that he has served, his ability to play, I just think his age and productivity (are negatives)," McLane said. "Particularly for a National League team."

With baseball trying to move on, McLane said the new drug policy is a positive step.

"I think so," McLane said. "We're learning to solve the problem."

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre, whose team is in Milwaukee for a series against the Brewers this week, praised the union for cooperating with ownership on the new policy.

"I think it's important," Torre said. "It used to be where Major League Baseball tried to dictate to the players. I think on this subject, anyway, it's healthy that they're both trying to work something that's going to make sense and get the fans' trust back. I think that's the most important thing to me."

In other developments at Wednesday's meetings:

--Selig hinted that punishments have been handed down to team executives in connection with the Mitchell Report on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, coming in the form of community service.

"I have stated, and it's sort of been misunderstood, anybody who has been disciplined is doing a lot of community service," Selig said. "And I think most people involved believe that was their discipline. But there's nothing new."

--Selig said MLB officials have received the Chicago Cubs' financial records and are reviewing them, another step toward the Tribune Co.'s sale of the team and Wrigley Field. But Selig said it will up to the team to release its books to potential bidders.

"We sent it back to them, they'll look at it, we'll have an agreement, then they'll go out to the bidders," Selig said.


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