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Men's Health

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Gov't Set to Step In on Pro Drug Testing

Lawmakers Threatening to Clamp Down on Anabolic Steroids

Leagues at Odds

Professional league representatives meeting with federal officials behind closed doors on Capitol Hill Thursday appeared to be far from agreement on whether they would willingly submit to federal oversight.

"For us it's a question of making sure we don't have a situation of one size fits all," Adolpho Birch, labor relations counsel for the NFL, told reporters following the meeting.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig in April proposed a system including 50-game suspensions for any players caught using performance-enhancing drugs. Current baseball rules impose a 10-day suspension for a first offense and a 30-day suspension for a second.

The rules don't require public disclosure of players testing positive, a point that remains controversial on Capitol Hill. The Major League Baseball Players' Association has not agreed to the proposal.

Disclosure "is one of they key areas of tension we are facing," says David Marin, a spokesman for Republicans on the House Government Reform Committee, which hosted Thursday's meeting.

Bills are 'Dynamic'

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), the committee's chairman, told reporters that bills regulating drug testing in sports remain "dynamic" and that he has "an open mind" about how strict the rules will ultimately be.

"We'd like to give the professional sports the opportunity to resolve this themselves, but we'll have some minimum standards. As long as there's pressure to compete, that's what drives this problem," he tells WebMD.

Others warn that self-regulation by pro leagues has already failed.

Yesalis says that drug use -- including steroids and amphetamines -- have a history going back decades in sports including baseball, football, and hockey. He supports proposals turning drug testing over to the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), the group responsible for testing and penalizing Olympic athletes.

"We need to have USADA be the police, judge, jury, and executioner, not the [league] commissioners. And if they let that transparency-in-disclosure deal go, it's been a waste of time," he says.

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