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Commissioners to testify

Steroids hearings draw top bosses

WASHINGTON -- The commissioners of Major League Baseball, the NFL, NBA, NHL, and Major League Soccer will testify next week at two days of congressional hearings about legislation calling for standard steroid testing across US sports.

In a witness list released yesterday, the House Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection Subcommittee said it will hear from baseball's Bud Selig, the NBA's David Stern, the NHL's Gary Bettman, and Don Garber of MLS Wednesday, with the NFL's Paul Tagliabue appearing the next day.

Baseball players' union head Donald Fehr, NBA players' union chief Billy Hunter, and former US Anti-Doping Agency chairman Frank Shorter will also testify.

The subcommittee's chairman, Florida Republican Cliff Stearns, proposed the Drug Free Sports Act April 26. His panel's inquiry is separate from that being done by the Government Reform Committee, which heard from baseball players and officials March 17, the NFL April 27, and is scheduled to hear from Stern Thursday. The leaders of that committee have said they are writing legislation of their own.

Stearns's bill would have the Commerce Secretary oversee drug-testing rules and calls for a two-year suspension for a first offense and a lifetime ban for a second. Leagues that don't comply would be fined at least $5 million.

Any such bill is expected to face an uphill fight in Washington.

''It is clear that legislation is needed to establish uniform standards and heavier penalties for steroid use," Stearns said. ''Professional sports expect world-class performances from their players, and these athletes should be subject to world-class testing standards."

Colorado pitcher Christian Parker and Chicago White Sox utilityman Jorge Toca were among 11 players given 15-game suspensions yesterday for violating baseball's minor league steroids policy.

Fifty-nine players have been suspended this year for violating the minor league program. Five players have been given 10-day penalties for violating the major league program.

Parker, a former New York Yankees prospect, is 3-1 with a 1.41 ERA in seven starts this season for Double-A Tulsa.

Toca, 30, is hitting .273 with eight homers and 19 RBIs with Triple-A Charlotte.

Also suspended were Robert Valido of the White Sox, Jonathan Herrera of Colorado, Steven Smyth of Oakland, and Briane Mazone, Oscar Montero and Guillermo Rodriguez of San Francisco. Three players who already have been released also were suspended: Tetsu Yofu of the White Sox, Marcos Mendoza of the Rockies and Joshua Cram of the Giants.

''I hope that today's announcement will send a message that the use of performance enhancing drugs is unacceptable and that major league baseball is serious about removing them from our game," said Giants general manager Brian Sabean.

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