WASHINGTON – The House on Thursday overwhelmingly voted to limit sales of steroid precursors such as androstenedione (search) following congressional and public pressure to stamp out performance-enhancing drug use among baseball players.
The bill, passed 408-3, would ban over-the-counter sales of precursors, which act like steroids in the human body.
"We are here to say enough is enough by making it harder to traffic in steroids and making sure there are tough penalties for those who do," said House Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.
The bill also would double the penalties for manufacturing or distributing anabolic steroids (search) at or near a sports facility.
"The bill will go a long way to ensure that our nation's athletes and children will not be exposed to these dangerous products," said Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas.
While protecting pro sports is important, stopping children from using those chemicals is even more important, House members said.
"Young athletes are using these drugs in the belief that they can become great in their sports and gain a lot of money," said Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va. "However, in addition to risking disqualification in their sport, they also risk stunted growth, infertility (search) and other long-term health problems and even death."
Similar legislation, sponsored by Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., is pending in the Senate.
The House debated the bill on Wednesday but delayed the vote until Thursday.
Congress has taken an increased interest in the issue this year in the wake of reports of steroid use among athletes, particularly professional baseball players. A federal grand jury in San Francisco has indicted four men on charges of illegally distributing steroids, including the personal trainer of Barry Bonds (search).
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig (search) has asked the union to renegotiate its contract with the American and National leagues to include a tough steroids policy, and union chief Donald Fehr has left open the possibility of doing that before the players' collective bargaining agreement expires in December 2006.