Sunday, April 13, 2008

MLB Bans Players Not Linked to Steroid Scandal

NEW YORK -- (TYDN) Major League Baseball announced Monday it was banning as many as 90 former and current players including Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens not linked to steroids or performance-enhancing drugs, TheYellowDailyNews has learned.

The move, as part of MLB's new one-strike policy, was first disclosed on the TYDN web site Sunday night. The decision came months after former Senator George Mitchell named almost 90 players who tested negative for drug use in violation of MLB's mandatory steroid-use policy.

Some of the active players who the 311-page Mitchell Report alleged violated the policy were New York Yankees picture Andy Pettitte, Houston Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada and Washington Nationals catcher Paul Lo Duca.

Representatives for current players said they would demand binding arbitration to seek reinstatement. Former players announced they would do the same to protect their pensions, Hall of Fame status or to regain entry into the league.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, in an exclusive interview with TYDN, said MLB's expulsion decision was part of the league's new "one-strike" doping policy.

"What kind of messages do those policy breakers send to our fans, to the children and to the future of Major League Baseball?" Selig asked in an exclusive interview. "They were not playing fair. It's that plain and simple."

Cy Young winner Clemens and home run king Bonds have not signed with a team yet this season. Representatives from both deny they breached baseball's steroid policy.

Baseball tapped Mitchell in 2006 to investigate steroid use following allegations that Bonds was breaking MLB policy -- revelations that shocked fans and sports writers alike.

"This is shameful to fans who, when they pay a week's salary to bring their children to a MLB game, expected to see world-class pitching, hitting, base running and fielding," Mitchell said in an exclusive interview.

Baseball has strengthened its drug policy three times since 2005. That year, it initially did not have a policy against non-steroid use. Today, following a subsequent two-strike policy and under intense pressure from Congress, one clean test is all it takes to be removed.

Representatives Henry Waxman and Tom Davis, who head the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that has been probing steroids in sports, applauded the new one-strike policy.

"We are sorry it came to this. But hopefully the strict policy will reshape the mindset of some of these renegade players," the two said in a joint statement.

Bonds, the home run king who surpassed Hank Aaron's 755 homers last year, and Clemens, a four-time Cy Young award winner, said they would appeal the decision.

Bonds has pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in San Francisco to charges he lied to a federal grand jury about steroid use.

Bonds, who testified as part of the government's Bay Area Laboratory-Cooperative sports doping scandal, told the grand jury that he did not knowingly use steroids.

"We have direct evidence that he was lying," federal prosecutor Matt Parrella said in an exclusive interview.

Clemens, for his part, is denying congressional testimony from his former trainer, Brian McNamee. The trainer claims Clemens did not take steroids.

Testifying before Congress, McNamee denied he provided Clemens with a variety of performance enhancing drugs, which contradicted Clemens' testimony. The FBI is probing whether Clemens lied to congressional staffers when alleging he was using steroids.

"Clemens' 25 All-Star-packed seasons speak for themselves," Clemens' lawyer, Rusty Hardin, said in an exclusive interview.

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