July 31, 2002
Hon. Earnest F. Hollings
U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation
Washington, DC 20515-0906
Dear Hon. Hollings:
I am writing to you on behalf of the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA) concerning the issue of drug testing in Major League Baseball (MLB). Many professional sports organizations already have implemented drug-testing programs, including the National Football League (NFL) and the National Basketball Association (NBA), who has had a drug-testing program in effect for more than 15 years. The NBA, NFL and Minor League Baseball tests for steroids and other performance enhancing drugs, and DATIA believes that MLB should also be drug testing their players.
The general public is in support of drug testing in MLB. Nearly 80% of baseball fans surveyed in a USA TODAY/CNN Gallup Poll believe steroids have contributed to the offensive explosion in the major leagues in recent years. Furthermore, 86% said testing should be done for steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs.
The Nation's children are receiving the wrong message; namely that drug use is not only permissible, but also desirable if an individual wants to perform at his/her best. Studies have shown an increase in steroid use among children, who may be modeling their behavior after professional athletes, and it has been reported that steroid use by high school boys is as high as 12 percent. Professional baseball players have a tremendous influence on children and therefore have an obligation to attempt to be good role models.
Many MLB players and retired players have admitted to steroid use throughout the league. Steroids and other performance enhancing drugs are harmful to an individual's health and have no place in our national pastime. Other professional sports already ban steroids. Steroid use is illegal without a doctor's prescription and the failure to test MLB players for such use has led to speculation that steroids are widely used by many MLB players. Instituting mandatory steroid testing will send the right message to the public, namely that MLB is serious about banning steroids and will continually work to protect the integrity of the game.
Drug testing is an effective method for deterring drug use in the workplace and athletics. For over 13 years, the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) has advocated drug testing by testing employees working in safety-sensitive positions. The federal government also supports the need for drug testing in the workplace in its Drug-Free Workplace programs. Drug testing is also used in the public and private sector as a means for detecting drug use in the workplace. Over 98% of Fortune 200 companies conduct drug testing. Over the years, organized labor has made significant contributions to addressing the problem of substance abuse in the workplace. Many professional sports teams have also implemented drug-testing programs as a way to keep drugs out of the workplace, and MLB should develop a mandatory drug-testing program just as other professional sports organizations have in order to detect and deter players from using drugs.
Furthermore, drug testing of MLB players should be conducted by an independent body outside the scope of baseball, who does not have a conflict of interest between MLB players, coaches, owners, and agents. Using an independent third party to conduct drug testing ensures consistency and objectivity in drug testing and maintains the integrity of the drug-testing program.
DATIA was founded in 1995 and has grown to represent over 1,100 members from all facets of the drug and alcohol testing industry. DATIA works closely with key policy makers in Federal Agencies and in Congress to ensure that the interests of the industry are heard and taken into account when changes are proposed involving drug and alcohol testing rules. DATIA further works to educate the industry on current standards of service and regulatory policies and procedures. For complete information on the association, visit www.datia.org.
Please feel free to contact DATIA at (703) 548-0901 if we can be of any assistance concerning drug testing in MLB or proposed legislation in support of testing.
Laura E. Shelton
||U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation
||U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection