* Good Sports *
– Commissioner of Baseball Shows Commitment to Stopping Performance-Enhancing Drug Use
In anticipation of today’s (May 18) Congressional hearing on the Drug Free Sports Act before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection — where commissioners of the major professional sports leagues will testify — Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig wrote a letter directed toward the “Fans of Major League Baseball,” outlining his new goals for testing and penalizing Minor League players for performance-enhancing drug use.
Selig stated that he would also negotiate these plans with the Major League Baseball Player’s Association to change the Major League Drug Policy. But Selig added, “However, in the event that we are unable to achieve agreement with the MLBPA on this matter and I am left with no reasonable alternative to address this critical issue, I will support federal legislation, as it has been introduced by congressman Stearns.”
The Drug Free Sports Act would create national standards for professional athletes modeled after the Olympic testing and penalty policies against performance enhancing drugs, and would mandate a two-year suspension for the first offense and a lifetime ban for the second offense.
Selig’s letter outlines a potentially significant improvement over MLB’s current policy (adopted January 13, 2005), which introduced limited testing with paltry penalties that are no match for the competitive and financial pressures on players to gain an edge, and which have not restored the full confidence of baseball fans that what they are watching is fair play. But his plans, even if approved by the MLBPA, fall well short of what the Drug Free Sports Act would mandate. Still, it appears that positive momentum continues in the battle to rid performance-enhancing drugs from professional sports. Selig’s letter follows:
May 16, 2005
Dear Fans of Major League Baseball,
On Wednesday, May 18, 2005 I will appear before the Subcommittee on Commerce Trade and Consumer Protection of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce to offer testimony concerning the Drug Free Sports Act, which has been introduced by Congressman Cliff Stearns. This bill creates minimum drug testing standards for professional sports. I want to be clear concerning the position of Major League Baseball on this important issue. The eradication of performance-enhancing substances from all of professional baseball is my top priority. This priority is and always has been shared by the owners of all 30 Major League Clubs. They have reiterated their long-standing determination to rid our game of these substances by a unanimous resolution passed during our recent MLB owners’ meetings in New York.
We have been fighting the use of these drugs in the Major Leagues and the Minor Leagues for a long time and in 2002 were successful for the first time in reaching agreement with the Major League Baseball Players Association on a testing program. Our program was strengthened in January, 2005. I believe then, and I believe now, that the improvements we made were a strong step forward in achieving our goal. However, it is clear to me that you and your elected representatives in Congress expect more in order to restore faith in the integrity of our rules and the performance of our players.
Therefore, I will amend Major League Baseball’s Minor League drug policy, effective for the 2006 season. First-time offenders will be suspended for 50 games. Second-time offenders will be suspended for 100 games and third-time offenders will be permanently banned from Major League Baseball and all Minor League Clubs who are affiliated with Major League Baseball.
Testing for performance-enhancing drug use in the Major Leagues, and the resulting penalties, is a topic we believe we are required to discuss and negotiate with the players’ union before any further action can be taken. We have been encouraged by the MLBPA’s sensitivity to this issue as reflected in the positive changes made to our program last January. I am certain that this sensitivity reflects the near-unanimous concern which has recently been publicly expressed on this issue by our clubs’ players, who make up the membership of the MLBPA. I have invited the MLBPA’s Executive Director to consider the following changes to the Major League Drug Policy:
1. I believe that the discipline for the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the Major Leagues should be exactly what I have determined will be applicable to players in the Minor Leagues in 2006: 50 games, 100 games and a permanent ban.
2. I believe amphetamines should be banned under our program and considered performance-enhancing substances for the purpose of penalties.
3. I believe we should increase the frequency of testing, and …
4. I believe we should agree on a single, independent administrator who is responsible for all aspects of the program.
It is clear to me that we must act quickly because the existence of these substances provides cause to question the integrity of each and every player, creates an uneven playing field to the advantage of those who elect to cheat and raises important health concerns. Most importantly, the use of these substances by any player in our game has the potential to influence young people in a disastrous direction.
Finally, I believe that expeditious, effective changes in our agreement, whose elements are consistent with the goals I have outlined above, is a course of action far preferable to federal legislation on this issue. However, in the event that we are unable to achieve agreement with the MLBPA on this matter and I am left with no reasonable alternative to address this critical issue, I will support federal legislation, as it has been introduced by Congressman Stearns. I am convinced that he and his committee chairman, Congressman Joe Barton, share my goal of eliminating illegal performance-enhancing drugs from Major League Baseball.
Since I will be speaking publicly on this matter this week and there is likely to be a considerable amount of media coverage and opinion expressed, I thought it was important to let you know where I, as the Commissioner, stand on this issue.
Very truly yours,
Allan H. Selig
Commissioner Selig’s letter
H.R.1862 – Drug Free Sports Act of 2005
Selig ready for drug fight
By Michael O’Keefe, NY Daily News – May 17, 2005
Press Release from Representative Fred Upton (R-MI), co-author of the Drug Free Sports Act:
Press Release from Representative Cliff Stearns (R-FL), co-author of the Drug Free Sports Act:
League of Fans’ Position on the Use of Steroids and other Performance-Enhancing Substances in Sports – January 14, 2005
* Take Action! *
1) Urge your Congressional representative to support H.R.1862, the Drug Free Sports Act of 2005.
Contact your representative
Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard to be connected with your representative’s office:
2) Emphasize participation over winning in your own household, school and community. The pressure of a sports environment that has a “win at all costs” attitude jeopardizes health and safety and increases the potential for injury. Our current sports culture fuels the use of performance-enhancing substances at almost all levels of competition and age groups, as well as in most sports. Putting the health and safety of players at risk just to win should have no place in sports. For players, sports should be about safe participation and enjoyment, never winning at all costs.
* Bad Sports *
– Adidas, Reebok Overstepping Commercial Bounds by Interfering with Sports
Two recent, unprecedented developments in the commercial takeover of sports:
1) Adidas, the German sports equipment manufacturer, holds an exclusive deal with the German national soccer team to supply all of the team’s shoes and equipment. But some of the best players, including Dietmar Hamann, Miroslav Klose and Jens Lehmann, may be excluded from the national team for the World Cup because they prefer other equipment makers. As Sporting Life (UK) reports:
“Germany coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who has also been employed as a spokesman by [Adidas], bowed to their greater influence . . . by telling reporters that those players unwilling to heed the sponsors’ demands will simply be excluded from consideration hitherto.
He said: ‘There will be nobody representing the national team without wearing Adidas boots. If any player says that he must wear an alternative (brand), he can go home and watch the game on television.’” Klinsmann has sent letters to several players threatening this corporate ultimatum.
Adidas to Give Dissenters the Boot
By Peter May, Sporting Life (UK) – May 4, 2005
Klinsi: No Adidas Boots, No World Cup
Deutsche Welle – May 6, 2005
German FA support Klinsmann in ‘battle of the shoes’
Malaysia Star – May 11, 2005
2) The National Football League is refusing to allow new San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Mike Nolan to wear a coat and tie to coach his team. The NFL’s $250 million contract with Reebok mandates that, on the sideline, every coach must wear clothes made by and sponsored by Reebok. Nolan. This from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
“The request was simple, the sentiment heartfelt. San Francisco’s Mike Nolan said he’d like to wear a coat and tie for his first NFL head coaching game as an homage to his father, Dick Nolan, former head coach of the 49ers and Saints.
‘To me, it’s professional. I think it’s respectful,’ Nolan was quoted as saying in the San Francisco Chronicle. As a youth, Nolan roamed the sideline with his dad, opposite the likes of the dapper Hank Stram and stoic Tom Landry, always dressed to the nines.
Modern-day coaches in the NHL and NBA seem to share Nolan’s feelings that a well-dressed leader adds to his air of authority and lends a touch of class to what’s supposed to be a professional sport. The NFL begged to differ and summoned Nolan to the star chamber.”
NFL is missing the mark on coat and tie that bind
By Kathleen Nelson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch – May 14, 2005
Commercialism is out of control
Santa Cruz Sentinel – May 16, 2005
* Take Action! *
1) Contact German Football Association (DFB) President Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder and demand that he stand up to Adidas and not allow their marketing contract to interfere with the German national team.
Deutscher Fussball-Bund (German Football Association)
60528 Frankfurt/Main, Germany
2) Contact NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and demand that he stand up to Reebok. Corporate marketing agreements should never interfere with sports or take precedence over honor, tradition and culture.
Paul J. Tagliabue
National Football League Inc.
280 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017
tel (212) 450-2000
fax (212) 681-7599
3) Write to San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Mike Nolan to show support in his effort to honor his father buy wearing a coat and tie to coach his first game instead of the imposed Reebok apparel.
San Francisco 49ers
4949 Centennial Blvd.
Santa Clara, CA 95054
4) Contact Adidas and Reebok and demand that they stop interfering with sports.
91074 Herzogenaurach, Germany
fax +49-9132-84-2241 –
5055 N Greeley Ave.
Portland, OR 97217 –
Reebok International Ltd.
1895 J. W. Foster Blvd.
Canton, MA 02021
tel (781) 401-5000
fax (781) 401-7402
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – The guest is Gary McCoy, a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations. Our focus is the injury pandemic in baseball, what’s causing it and how it can be fixed.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #13 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Conversation With Long-Time MLB Exec Dan Evans About What’s Right With Baseball and What Could Be Better – Evans is a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently a consultant for Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams movie site.
Episode #12 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Fun Chat With Dan Gutman, Author of the Baseball Card Adventure Series for Kids
Episode #11 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Latest on Brain Trauma, Concussions and CTE with Dr. Chris Nowinski – Nowinski is CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation.
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO.
Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
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Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon