WASHINGTON – Baseball commissioner Bud Selig's (search) appearances before Congress are usually marked by tough questioning, but Sen. John McCain threw him a softball at a recent hearing: Would he support renegotiating with the players union for a tougher steroid testing policy (search)?
Selig not only said he would, but he immediately fired off a letter to players union chief Don Fehr (search), posing the same question — even though Fehr had declined to commit to stronger steroid tests at the hearing.
The commissioner's push on steroids marked a fresh attempt to capitalize on the congressional and public pressure to stamp out performance-enhancing drug use among baseball players.
"The congressional hearing represented part of a growing outcry and momentum of outrage at what's going on," said Smith College economist Andrew Zimbalist, who has written about sports and public policy. "I don't think (Selig's letter) has very much to do with a threat of legislation, but it does have to do with building upon the public outcry and momentum against the use of steroids."
McCain, an Arizona Republican and chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, threatened legislation to force stronger steroid testing policy at the March 10 hearing.