Don't count out baseball in Olympics
MLB executives working with IOC to restore game to docket
WASHINGTON -- Baseball and softball will be placed on the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) disabled list after the Beijing Games, but Major League Baseball hopes it's a short stay.Bob DuPuy, MLB's president and chief operating officer, said MLB is working with the IOC to restore baseball for the 2016 Summer Games. "We have people [in Beijing] who are meeting with IOC members during the Olympics," DuPuy told reporters Wednesday, after the first round of MLB's owners' meetings had wrapped up. "There will be a vote in the fall of 2009. Our effort is to be successful with that vote in getting [baseball] restored to the Olympics in 2016."
DuPuy said baseball has reason to be optimistic on several fronts. For one, Harvey Schiller, the new president of the International Baseball Federation, has been active in meetings to broker a "detente," as DuPuy put it, between the two sides. MLB is also hopeful the quality of this year's tournament in Beijing and the interest in next spring's second installment of the World Baseball Classic will urge the IOC to let baseball back in. Baseball was a demonstration sport in 1984 in Los Angeles and 1988 in Seoul, Korea. It became a medal sport in 1992 in Barcelona, Spain, where Cuba won the first gold. But baseball and softball were voted out of the 2012 Games in London during a 2005 vote of the IOC. The sports became the first eliminated by the IOC since polo was bumped in 1936. Several reasons were cited for the ousting. Among them were the ineligibility of members of MLB's 40-man rosters, MLB's formerly lax testing for performance-enhancing drugs and the one-sidedness of the softball competition -- which was dominated by the Americans. MLB adheres to the IOC's doping regulations for all international events, including the World Baseball Classic. But allowing current Major League players to participate in the Olympic Games remains a considerable challenge, as DuPuy acknowledged. "I would never use the word 'never' on anything," DuPuy said, "but that is a significant issue. We play every day, and Commissioner [Bud] Selig has indicated an unwillingness to shut down the season. But there are alternatives that are being discussed that could provide some comfort to the IOC, in terms of quality [of players]." DuPuy did not elaborate on what those alternatives are, though he said the possibility that MLB would consider a scenario similar to the one employed by Japan -- which allows up to two players per professional team to compete on the national squad -- is unlikely. "I think taking players off Major League rosters would be a difficult scenario," DuPuy said. The location of the 2016 Games will be announced in October 2009. Chicago is on a list of candidates that also includes Tokyo; Madrid, Spain; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. "If the U.S. is awarded the 2016 Olympics," DuPuy said, "it would be a shame to not have baseball there."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.