Selig calls for talks on ban of ephedrine

Bechler's death brings stimulant to forefront

Baseball

February 22, 2003|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Momentum continues to build in a wide-ranging effort to restrict the use of weight-loss supplements containing the herbal stimulant that may have contributed to the death of Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig released a statement yesterday calling for talks with the Major League Baseball Players Association aimed at placing ephedrine and other potentially dangerous - but legal - supplements on Major League Baseball's list of banned substances.

"In light of the apparent circumstances surrounding the tragic and untimely death of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler, Major League Baseball and the clubs are prepared to meet with the Major League Baseball Players Association regarding the use or abuse of potentially dangerous dietary and nutritional supplements," read the statement from the commissioner's office. "Also, we will continue and accelerate our efforts to have Congress ban those substances."

Ownership officials suggested that ephedra be included on the restricted list during labor negotiations, but did not include an ephedra ban in any formal proposal because the union expressed reluctance to ban products that are legally available over the counter.

In the wake of Bechler's death - and revelations that many players use ephedrine capsules as a stimulant - the issue has become impossible to ignore.

Union director Donald Fehr, who had delayed commenting on the situation out of respect for Bechler's grieving family, was informed of Selig's statement while in Peoria, Ariz., for a stop on his spring training tour.

"At some point down the road - I'm not personally familiar with how long it takes - we'll have some scientific reports, which will tell us some things," Fehr said. "We may be able to draw conclusions from that."

Rep. Henry Waxman, the ranking Democrat of the House Committee on Government Reform, sent letters to Selig, Fehr and the commissioners of the NBA and NHL chastising them for not addressing "this serious safety issue."

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