- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 12, 2006

PITTSBURGH — The use of human growth hormone in baseball, while a problem, is not as big a concern to the sport as the continued use of amphetamines, commissioner Bud Selig said yesterday.

“According to the people who know, they believe [HGH] is not a huge statistical problem right now,” Selig said. “Are they right? I hope they are. As I said before, the medical people seem to be more concerned with amphetamines … than they are about steroids or HGH.”

Speaking to members of the Baseball Writers Association of America before last night’s All-Star Game, Selig championed the steps baseball has taken to curtail steroid use in the last four years.

“I really think that steroid use has been minimized,” he said. “We’re well under 1 percent [positive tests last season]. “We’ll be better than that this year. Amphetamines, we’re doing OK.”

Baseball added amphetamines to the banned substance list this season, but there’s concern players are still using forms of the uppers. Overall use, however, is believed to be down, leading some observers to wonder whether the level of play will decrease during the second half of the season as players suffer the effects of wear and tear.

“I know there are some people who feel that way,” Selig said. “But it had become a serious health problem. I don’t care.”

Though HGH has received attention in recent months after federal agents raided the home of former Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Jason Grimsley and found a shipment of the drug, the commissioner reiterated that no test has been developed yet to detect it. Selig also said he has been told by medical experts there’s no reason to save blood and urine samples for testing at a later date.

“We need a test,” he said, “and we’re going to try to do everything we can to get that test as quickly as we can. …

“We need to stay ahead of the curve. There are chemists out there working. But by the time we get to HGH, who knows what else [will be developed]? And that’s the one thing now I think there’s an acute awareness of. There are other things coming. There’s no question about it.”

Among the other topics Selig discussed:

• There is no concrete date for the formal transfer of the Washington Nationals’ ownership from MLB to the Lerner Group. “It’s very close,” Selig said.

• A rule that would prohibit All-Star pitchers from playing on the Sunday before the game. “We ought to seriously think about that,” he said.

Selig also was critical of Boston Red Sox All-Star Manny Ramirez for not coming to Pittsburgh after being voted to the starting lineup by fans.

• The impact revenue sharing has had on leveling the playing field between large-market and small-market teams. “If a person left baseball in 1998 or 2000 and came back today, they would be stunned by the difference,” Selig said.

• Changing baseball’s archaic television and Internet blackout rules so that more fans could watch more games.

New TV deal

Major League Baseball announced yesterday it reached a new seven-year deal with Fox and TBS to broadcast the All-Star Game and postseason, plus Saturday and Sunday “games of the week.”

The deal, which stretches through 2013, gives Fox the exclusive rights to the World Series and All-Star Game, plus one league championship series each year, beginning with the ALCS in 2007. The broadcast location of the LCS not shown by Fox is still under negotiation, but the league said there is strong interest from several networks.

TBS will have the rights to baseball’s Division Series beginning in 2007 and 26 Sunday afternoon broadcasts in 2008. It will also have the rights to any regular season tiebreaker games, plus the All-Star Game selection show. Rights to the Saturday national “game of the week” will be retained by Fox, but broadcasts could be moved from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Fox is in the final year of a six-year, $2.5 billion broadcast contract.

Staff writer Tim Lemke contributed to this article.


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