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Baseball bans ephedra for players with minor league contacts

NEW YORK (AP) _ Baseball has banned players with minor league contracts from taking ephedra, the diet supplement linked to the death of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler.

The decision was made Monday by baseball Commissioner Bud Selig.

Players on 40-man major league rosters are not covered by the decision because they are members of the Major League Baseball Players Association, and the union's collective bargaining agreement does not ban ephedra.

The decision to ban ephedra among players with minor league contracts was reported Thursday by The (Baltimore) Sun and was confirmed to The Associated Press by a baseball official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Ephedra is banned by the NFL, the NCAA and the International Olympic Committee.

Baseball negotiators intended to propose last summer that it be banned in the majors, but after the players union expressed opposition, management did not include ephedra in its proposed list of banned substances.

Bechler, a pitcher who made his major league debut last year, died Feb. 17, a day after collapsing at spring training with heatstroke. A Florida medical examiner said the death may have been linked to an ephedra-based diet pill, Xenadrine RFA-1.

Players association head Donald Fehr said the union will wait for toxicology reports before re-examining its stance on ephedra, which is available without a prescription. Players say they should be allowed to take any legal substance.
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