WASHINGTON – If Major League Baseball (search) doesn't put its house in order over illegal use of steroids (search), members of Congress will insist on stricter drug testing, Sen. John McCain warned Sunday.
"Both sides need to sit down and get together on this issue. And we need to have at least a regimen for testing that they impose in minor leagues in baseball. I'd like to see all professional sports have the same standards as the Olympics (search) have for Olympic athletes. But it's time to change," McCain, R-Ariz., told "FOX News Sunday."
McCain said he has warned before about the dangers of using the performance-enhancing drug, which is known to have some volatile side effects. America's pastime took a series of hits this week when it was revealed that some of baseball's biggest names have used steroids.
The controversy grew in proportion last week when it was revealed that New York Yankees players Jason Giambi (search) and Gary Sheffield (search) admitted to a federal grand jury that they had used steroids.
Similar allegations were made against San Francisco Giants superstar Barry Bonds (search). His trainer was recently indicted for distributing steroids. Bonds, who broke the single-season record for scoring 73 home runs in 2001 and is on track to beat Hank Aaron's (search) 775 career home runs, admitted using substances that he could not identify. He said they may have been steroids, but he doesn't know if that's so.
Former baseball star Jose Canseco is publishing a book about the sport and told FOX News that pressure is strong on players to take the "juice."
"'Listen, you've got some talent you're too light, you're not strong enough, but if you go through this weightlifting program, if you take these certain steroids, I guarantee you you'll have a high chance of playing in the major leagues, not just even that, acquiring a $50 million contract,'" Canseco said, suggesting that is what trainers and agents frequently tell athletes.
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig (search) is calling for stricter drug testing and harsher penalties. Once-a-year testing is currently in place, but the policy expires in 2006. The players' union executive board convenes Monday in Phoenix for its annual meeting and will address the issue this week.
But if they don't decide anything definitive, lawmakers say they are ready to step in.
"I'll support being very aggressive if it cannot be addressed at the more local level, which again, I would much prefer," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., a physician.
"They have a responsibility, not only to the sport, but to the children of America who look up to these players," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "Quite frankly, it's overdue."
Speaking on a Sunday morning news show, Frist said the problem "could be ended, bang, just like that, if everybody from the owners to the unions just step up and face the reality that we've got a huge problem."
"I hope it wouldn't be necessary for Congress to have to crack down," Pelosi, who represents San Francisco, told "FOX News Sunday." "I would hope [the league] could self-enforce a regimen that would deal with this."
In October, President Bush signed legislation that was aimed to curb steroid use through stopping sales of precursors and expanding the list of banned anabolic steroids. The bill also established a grant program to educate kids on the dangers of steroid use.
McCain said he believes Bush would sign a separate bill into law if he had to, though he thinks Bush would prefer for Major League Baseball to act on its own.
"I know that the president would like to see it done through collective bargaining and decisions made by owners and labor," McCain said.
FOX News' Megyn Kendall contributed to this report.