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Baseball notebook

Steroid hearings are on deck

Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts has acknowledged he used steroids. Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts has acknowledged he used steroids. (GAIL BURTON/FILE/Associated Press)
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Associated Press / December 19, 2007

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.

Roberts admits use

Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts has acknowledged using steroids, but insists he only tried it once before realizing he had made a "terrible decision." Roberts was named in Mitchell's report on steroid use. In a statement issued to the Associated Press, Roberts said he tried steroids four years ago. "In 2003, when I took one shot of steroids, I immediately realized that this was not what I stood for or anything that I wanted to continue doing," he said. Roberts was in the report because former teammate Larry Bigbie told investigators that Roberts told him he used steroids "once or twice" in 2003 . . . Pete Rose, banned by MLB for gambling, weighed in on the Mitchell Report in an interview with Dennis Miller that will air tonight on Versus, saying players who use steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs are "making a mockery" of baseball. "I never thought anybody would make me look like an altar boy," Rose said.

Mets get Wise

The Mets bolstered their bullpen, agreeing to a $1.2 million, one-year contract with righthander Matt Wise. Wise was 3-2 with a 4.19 ERA and one save in a career-high 56 appearances for the Brewers last season . . . The Astros and righthander Chad Paronto agreed to a one-year, $500,000 contract . . . Free agent second baseman Tadahito Iguchi finalized a $3.85 million, one-year contract with the Padres . . . The Chicago Cubs hired former Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield as a scout . . . Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez hired Guy Oseary, who has worked with Madonna and Lenny Kravitz, to be his business manager. Scott Boras will remain A-Rod's baseball agent.

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