Of course, the testing policies for the leagues vary widely, as does the list of banned drugs for which each league tests. For instance, the NBA doesn't test outside the preseason. And the NHL doesn't test for any performance-enhancing drugs.In 2002, its first year of testing, MLB had five-to-seven percent of its Major Leaguers test positive. Last year, 12 tested positive, while this season five have been caught and suspended for 10 days each without pay. Selig reiterated in Wednesday's hearing what he has said in recent days, promising tough new punishments for steroid use, either through collective bargaining or Congressional action. "The use of performance-enhancing substances calls into question not only the integrity of the Commissioner's Office, the Players Association and the Clubs, but also the integrity of each and every player," Selig said. "Such substances create an uneven playing field to the advantage of those who elect to cheat." The proposed bill, H.R. 1862 or the "Drug Free Sports Act," calls for the Olympic-type penalties of a two-year suspension for a first positive drug test and a lifetime ban for a second; random testing of every athlete at least once a year; tests for all substances banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, and testing administered by an independent party. There would be a $5 million initial fine if a league doesn't comply and $1 million a day for further non-compliance. Selig told the committee in his testimony that MLB would rather collectively bargain any changes in the current drug program, but that the sport would support the federal legislation if passed. "From our perspective, and I suspect from the perspective of many in Congress, the ability of baseball to police itself is preferable to legislation," he said. "If we cannot do it, and I hope we can, I understand why legislation would be considered by Congress." Fehr testified at length that the union was against federal intervention in the process and was joined in that sentiment by the union leaders from the NHL and MLS. All agreed that two years for a first positive test result was too severe and might end a player's career. "It should come as no surprise that the Players Association does not believe the proposed legislation should be enacted," Fehr said. This was the fourth time since 2002 that MLB officials have been called to testify before a Congressional committee investigating the use of performance-enhancing drugs at all levels of sports and each time the stakes have grown higher. After a Senate Commerce Committee hearing in 2002, MLB collectively bargained its first-ever steroid drug-testing program. After the same committee called Selig and Fehr back last year, the two sides negotiated stronger penalties and a wider range of random tests. Now, after hearings before two separate committees on the House side in the last two months, the tone of the elected officials hasn't changed. The MLB penalties for successive positive tests of a 10-day suspension, 30-day suspension, 60-day suspension and a one-year ban are not good enough. "We'll enact this bill if you stay stuck at 10," Fred Upton (R-Michigan) told Fehr during the question and answer period. Bob DuPuy, MLB's president and chief operating officer, said he expected a hard line from the Congressmen on Wednesday. "There were no surprises, I thought, at the hearing today," he said in an after-session interview. "The chairman of the subcommittee and committee as a whole told us beforehand that they were serious about the legislation. We'll continue to work with the committee as this moves forward, but I have no doubt in this committee's resolve to pass the legislation." Selig told the committee that he hopes the union will agree to his plan for more stringent penalties -- 50 games for the first offense, 100 games for the second and finally a lifetime ban. "We need to deal with this," Selig said in a post-hearing interview. "This sport should never be placed in a position where it's negatively influencing anything in society, given the fact of all the good we've done for the last 120 years." Fehr said that the union has yet to take a position on Selig's proposal and indicated afterward that it would be a lengthy process. "We've had some preliminary discussions with the players," Fehr said. "We'll continue to meet with the players and have told (Selig) that we'll be back in touch with him." Asked if he expected to make a team-by-team tour to discuss the issue, Fehr said: "I don't know yet." Selig said there was no timetable for again collectively bargaining any changes with the union. "But we need to get this done as soon as possible," he said. "The intensity is on. Let's get it done. Time is not our ally."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.