|Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts has acknowledged he used steroids. (GAIL BURTON/FILE/Associated Press)|
Congress announced plans yesterday to review the use of performance-enhancing drugs, with star-studded hearings scheduled next month and legislation to limit access to steroids and human growth hormone.
Two House panels are planning mid-January hearings featuring former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, author of the bombshell report last week that linked 88 baseball players to the illegal use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. Players, likely some of those named in the report, could be invited to testify as well.
Mitchell thinks Congress should give baseball a chance to implement his recommendations before taking independent action.
"My hope is that Congress will permit the players' association and the commissioner's office to review this report, to digest it, to consult with their own experts, and to work together to come up with the best possible program," Mitchell told the Portland (Maine) Press Herald. "And then, give them a chance to see what they can do, and at that point, take a look at it. So I hope that's what will occur,"
Meanwhile, two bills in the Senate were announced to limit access to performance-enhancing substances and stiffen criminal penalties for abuse and distribution.
Central to that effort is cracking down on the abuse of human growth hormone, a drug for which there is no reliable test.
One bill would classify HGH as a "Schedule III" substance, equating it legally with anabolic steroids and bringing it under the watch of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
That would mean that possession of HGH, a naturally occurring hormone approved by the FDA for treatment of some medical conditions, would be illegal without a current, valid prescription. Penalty for possession could be as high as three years in prison and even higher for illegal manufacture or distribution.
A second proposal by Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), would make it illegal to sell dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) to anyone under 18. DHEA is a naturally occurring precursor to testosterone and a supplement that some athletes are using as an alternative to illegal anabolic steroids, Grassley said.