Selig Pushes for Steroid Testing

Thursday, June 20th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MILWAUKEE (AP) _ Commissioner Bud Selig wants steroid testing to be part of baseball's next labor agreement.

``You're talking about the health and welfare of a group of people, which is very important,'' Selig said Wednesday.

Steroid use has become a hot topic in recent weeks as former MVPs Ken Caminiti and Jose Canseco have admitted taking the muscle-building substances.

Selig said he first became alarmed about steroid abuse in baseball two winters ago when he met with a group of 10 team doctors _ coincidentally, just two weeks after he had broken an ankle when he slipped while shoveling snow.

``And I remember coming in on crutches and there was a lot of kidding about that,'' Selig said. ``But the fact of the matter is they expressed a lot of concerns.

``We've had studies done at Harvard on this issue and we believe that testing is necessary.''

The union, which has long resisted drug testing, and owners have agreed to discuss steroid testing when their talks continue Thursday.

Although owners would like to add steroid testing into the new collective bargaining agreement, union head Donald Fehr told Congress on Tuesday that testing players without cause would violate their privacy.

Former Milwaukee slugger and current Brewers bench coach Cecil Cooper, inducted along with Selig into the Miller Park walk of fame on Wednesday night, said steroid testing was essential for the sport.

``I don't think it was a problem back in my day,'' Cooper said. ``Everybody takes some type of vitamins to get ready to play. But this wasn't an issue back when I played. I think there has to be some type of testing involved now. The numbers are just getting out of hand. Seventy-three home runs, 160-some RBIs? You have to.

``The little guys are doing what the big guys used to do.''

Baseball currently tests only those players on 40-man rosters who have had past drug problems. Minor leaguers not on 40-man rosters are tested because they aren't covered by the bargaining agreement.

Selig also said he wasn't insulted by rumblings of some players possibly boycotting the All-Star game in Milwaukee July 9.

Boston pitcher John Burkett has said if he were selected, he'd sit out the game to spite Selig, whose family runs the Brewers.

``I realize the commissioner is a lightning rod,'' Selig said. ``Am I sometimes disappointed and saddened? I am. But I've got a job to do.''

Cooper said it was ironic that some players dislike Selig because he always had an open-door policy and a healthy relationship with his players.

``I know he's a fair man,'' Cooper said. ``He's always been fair with me and I make sure I express that when I talk to guys. This is a guy who stood up for me, and I'm going to defend him.

``I mean, he's not going to be popular no matter what he does because that's the position. But I'm going to be sure they know what kind of man he is.''

Selig and Cooper joined last year's inaugural class of Robin Yount, Rollie Fingers, Hank Aaron and Paul Molitor in the Miller Park walk of fame. Each has a home plate-shaped marble plaque on the plaza that encircles the stadium.