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Sunday, June 16
The Indiana Daily Student

sports

MLBPA director addresses steroids

Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director and IU alumnus Donald Fehr spoke at the Whittenberger Auditorium Monday afternoon, addressing the steroid-testing issue facing baseball as one of players' rights.\nFehr warned mandatory testing of players could have more widespread implications on the future of labor relations in the nation as a whole.\n"We need to be more, rather than less, vigilant to protect the core zone of privacy," Fehr said. "I worry that what we accept one day for sports because athletes are seen as spoiled makes it easier to apply for the rest of the world in five or 10 years."\nHe said the zone of privacy in the U.S. today is vastly different than it was when he graduated in 1970, noting today, every e-mail, phone call or credit card purchase a person makes is now recorded.\nThough he is concerned with the rights of the players' union, Fehr made it clear that illegal performance enhancing substances should have no place in baseball.\nIn the 2002 collective bargaining agreement, the union agreed to ban players from using illegal substances and add new illegal substances once they are discovered or currently legal supplements if they are banned by the government.\n"If we test everybody all the time without suspicion of conduct, do we not believe they are guilty until proven innocent, and is that not contrary to our system of values?" Fehr said.\nFehr compared the testing to searching someone's home without a warrant.\n"I'm sure there are plenty of illegally registered firearms in Bloomington, but that does not authorize a search without evidence," Fehr said.\nBecause more than 5 percent of last year's random steroid tests came back positive, players will be re-tested this year and next. Players who test positive will be identified and face possible suspension -- provided they reject going to counseling first.\nMany think the regulations are too weak. Fehr responded to that opinion by saying penalization was not the purpose of the policy.\n"The purpose of the program is to eliminate use, not to punish people," Fehr said. \nFehr also discussed his recent testimony in Congress regarding the steroid issue, where Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and others criticized the union for its stance.\nBut Fehr said Congress may have dropped the ball in 1994 when it passed the Dietary Supplements Act. The law meant health supplements sold over-the-counter did not have to be tested by the Federal Drug Administration. \n"If the Congress of the United States makes a decision that anyone, including children, can use those, how can a union act like a parent and tell an adult what he can't do?" Fehr said.\nThough Olympic sports test for more drugs than baseball, Fehr said these tests aren't necessarily stringent or appropriate -- citing Sudafed was once considered a banned supplement by the International Olympic Committee.\nSenior Michael Tanney, a Yankees fan who attended the lecture, thought Fehr's points were valid.\n"He pushed the issue that the way the public perceives everything is guilty until proven innocent, and he has an obligation to switch that," Tanney said.\nThe College of Arts and Sciences and the IU Varsity Club sponsored the event.\nKumble Subbaswamy, Dean of COAS, said Fehr's talk helped give students an important perspective on a relevant, current issue.\n"His answers certainly provoked thought," Subbaswamy said. "And I think many of the students who asked questions naturally took away more about the legal perspectives on it."\n-- Contact senior writer Alex Hickey at ahickey@indiana.edu.

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