House members query Selig, Fehr
Commissioner, union chief accept share of responsibility
WASHINGTON -- The Commissioner of Major League Baseball and the head of the Players Association both conceded to a Congressional committee on Tuesday that they were slow in recognizing the impact of performance-enhancing drugs on the sport."I'll take the responsibility," Bud Selig said during a nearly 55-minute session in which he and Don Fehr, the executive director of the union, were cross-examined by members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. "That's why I wanted this report." "Certainly, we didn't pay attention soon enough," Fehr said. In the wake last month of the report issued by former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell analyzing the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, the same Committee that bashed the sport nearly three years ago for its pace in dealing with the drug issue called some of the same people back together on Tuesday. And during the four-hour hearing, which was split into two sessions -- the first given to Mitchell and the second to Selig and Fehr - there was little rancor from the Congressmen who with regularity popped in and out of Hearing Room 2154 of the Rayburn Building. "There's a reason for that," Selig said afterward about the more comfortable tone of Tuesday's hearing compared with the session of March 2005. "Look at where we were back then and where we are right now." Mitchell, for one, told Committee members he was confident that baseball officials were capable of continuing to put their own house in order and that no legislative intervention was necessary. Unlike hearings of the not too distant past, none was offered or threatened. The members remained composed when neither Selig nor Fehr would commit to an independent administrator to rule over the Major League joint drug-testing policy. At present there's an independent component of the policy, but as part of a three-pronged approach that also includes representatives of management and the union. That recommendation was one of the most poignant in Mitchell's 409-page report, which cited more than 80 players, including seven-time Cy Young Award-winner Roger Clemens, as having used performance-enhancing drugs in some shape or form during the past 15 years. "We'll take a look at it and get back to you," Fehr said when asked about the independent administrator. "It's a fair question," Selig added. "We need to evaluate it." Selig confirmed during the session that he's considering disciplining some of the players and members of management taken to task by Mitchell in the Report. "We should do the players sooner rather than later," Selig said afterward.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.