SBD/Issue 236/Leagues & Governing Bodies

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  • NFL Looking At Strengthening Drug-Testing Policy This Season

    Gene Upshaw Promises To
    Oppose Blood Testing
    The NFL “is discussing strengthening its testing program for performance-enhancing drugs and could make changes during the season,” according to Judy Battista of the N.Y. TIMES. Among the “potential modifications are more frequent testing and additions to the list of banned substances.” But the NFL said that changes to the policy “would be part of its regular review, not a response” to the Dr. James Shortt/Panthers case. NFL Exec VP/Labor Relations Harold Henderson: “It might make sense to do some tweaking.” NFLPA Exec Dir Gene Upshaw last week said that he “would not allow blood collection” to test for HGH. Upshaw: “I’m not ready to take that leap.” Battista notes the league “rejects the suggestion that it should farm out the administration of its program, including appeals and penalties, to an outside group” (N.Y. TIMES, 9/6).

    MCCAIN: U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who has been active in efforts to strengthen drug testing in sports, said of the difference in perception between how MLB and the NFL handle drug issues, “[The NFL has] a great PR machine. When Gene Upshaw and [former Commissioner Paul] Tagliabue testified, they were very convincing. ... And so I think they’re getting off more lightly than perhaps they should” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 9/6).

    POLLING THE PLAYERS: In N.Y., Gary Myers polled a panel of seven NFL players on five issues related to performance-enhancing drugs. Following are the questions and responses.

    Q1: Is NFL drug testing “almost a joke?”
    Yes: 1
    No: 5
    Don’t Know: 1
    The yes vote “came from a player disgusted with the testing procedure for cocaine, marijuana, etc. Once a player comes up clean in his preseason test, he has a free ride the rest of the year.”

    Q2: Are players finding a way to cheat on the test?
    Yes: 4
    No: 1
    Don’t Know: 2

    Q3: Are there players in the league using steroids?
    Yes: 4
    No: 1
    Don’t Know: 2
    One player said, “It’s possible. Very possible.” Another added there is probably a “handful of guys” doing steroids.

    Q4: Are there players in the league using HGH?
    Yes: 1
    No: 1
    Don’t Know: 5

    Q5: Has the NFL been flying under the radar because of the focus on steroids in baseball?
    Yes: 0
    No: 7
    Don’t Know: 0
    One player: “Maybe baseball has drawn more attention to the minor abuses in the NFL, but I don’t think it’s a problem in our league” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/6).

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  • Third Watch: Columnists React To U.S. Team’s Loss In Worlds

    USA’s Quest For Gold
    Ends With Greece
    The U.S. men’s basketball team beat Argentina 96-81 Saturday to win the bronze medal at the FIBA World Championships, a day after being defeated 101-95 by Greece in the semifinals. The U.S. has not won a major int’l men’s basketball tournament since the ’00 Sydney Olympics. In Arizona, Jerry Brown reported USA Basketball Men’s Senior National Team Managing Dir Jerry Colangelo gave Team USA’s “first foray into rebuilding its infrastructure and recapturing international basketball respect under his guidance a solid 10.” Colangelo: “We took the first step” (EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE, 9/5). Colangelo “noted that the whole aim is to prepare” for the ’08 Olympics. He said the U.S. “got a lot done” toward that goal (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 9/6).

    COACH SPEAK: U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski: “There are really three different games that are played by our country. We play an NBA game that if the world played, it might be different results. Then there’s an international game; then there’s the collegiate game. So when you cross over from one to another, in worldwide basketball, I think it’s up for grabs” (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/4). Krzyzewski, appearing on ESPN’s “PTI,” said, “I think we’ll be the favorite in the Olympics. ... We have to continue to adjust.” He also pointed out Team USA’s inexperience playing as a unit: “You watch Spain, who won the World Championship. Those guys have been together since 1999 in the Juniors” (ESPN, 9/5).

    LOSS SHOULD NOT BE A SHOCK: In DC, Michael Wilbon wrote Americans’ “arrogance has no boundaries when it comes to international basketball, though it ought to by now. ... In every other sport we seem to understand that we’re not the only ones playing, that we’re not vastly superior and, in fact, often aren’t as good” (WASHINGTON POST, 9/2). In Houston, Fran Blinebury: “The fat lady’s been standing outside screaming at the top of her lungs about Team USA’s place in the world game for most of the new millennium. This was just one more chance to notice” (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/4). In Boston, Bob Ryan: “Beating the NBA representative is no longer a miracle. It is an accepted rite of passage for any upstanding basketball country” (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/2). In Richmond, John Markon: “Sooner or later, the losses need to stop as a shock” (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 9/2).

    BLAME THE NBA?
    In Chicago, Rick Telander wrote under the header, “Root Of U.S. Team’s Problem May Be NBA.” Telander: “It never seemed to dawn on any of us, or the NBA, that the rest of the world was out there patiently practicing a team game suited to the international rules” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 9/3). In Denver, David Krieger called Michael Jordan “the worst thing that ever happened to American basketball. ... If you could leap and fly and dunk, you didn’t spend hours every day of your childhood shooting jump shots the way those kids in Europe did” (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 9/2). In Jacksonville, Gene Frenette: “USA basketball would do itself and young hoopsters across this country a tremendous service to focus more on substance and fundamentals and less on a hip-hop image” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 9/2).

    YEAR-ROUND FOCUS: In K.C., Jason Whitlock wrote the U.S. should “build and pay for a year-round team. Pay 10 guys $500,000 a year to travel the globe practicing and playing together and sprinkle in three or four NBA superstars for major international competitions.” NBA Commissioner David Stern and NBA players “should walk away now before they do any more damage to the NBA brand” (K.C. STAR, 9/3). ESPN.com’s Chris Sheridan wrote the U.S. is losing in major tournaments “because Team USA keeps changing its roster, never developing the chemistry and familiarity that the best teams from other parts of the world have developed as their greatest strength” (ESPN.com, 9/2).

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, MLB, NASCAR
  • League Notes

    MLB attendance for 2,054 games through Labor Day was 64,789,952, an average of 31,543 per game. The total number was up 1.2% from last season’s comparable 64,036,819, an average of 31,177. MLB set a single-season attendance record in ’05 with 74,926,174 (MLB). In Minneapolis, Joe Christensen wrote the sport “is enjoying a coast-to-coast resurgence marked by labor peace and stricter drug testing” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 9/2).

    MONSTER GARAGE: CRAIN’S N.Y. BUSINESS’ Julie Satow reports NASCAR is leaving its 7,800-square-foot office at the Seagram Building for a 19,500-square-foot space at Park Avenue Tower. The former office was located on E. 55th St. between Park and Madison avenues, while the new $90-per-square-foot space is located at 375 Park Ave., between E. 52nd and E. 53rd (NEWYORKBUSINESS.com, 9/5).

    UNIFICATION BELT: The WTA beginning next year will turn management of its anti-doping program over to the Int’l Tennis Federation through 2011. WTA Tour VP/Business Affairs Andrew Walker said that the move “should mean a significant increase in testing.” The ATP handed over management of its program earlier this year (N.Y. TIMES, 9/5).

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