Padres to Study Voluntary Drug Tests

Times Staff Writer

With yet another teammate checked into a rehabilitation center, Padre players have decided to formulate their own voluntary drug-testing plan.

"We'll try to come up with something as a team," infielder Jerry Royster said Friday, a day after pitcher LaMarr Hoyt decided to seek help for possible substance abuse. "We're working on getting a program together ourselves."

Royster indicated the Padre players would consider the policies of the Major League Players Assn, but . . .

"We think we're a special case," he said. "Lord only knows we're a special case. Two springs, and we've been through two of these."

Last April, infielder Alan Wiggins also entered a rehabilitation center. He has since been traded to Baltimore.

And the Padre front office naturally is all for the testing. On Friday, Ballard Smith, team president, met with the players and urged them to adopt a program. He distributed copies of the Baltimore Orioles' voluntary system, which leaves testing in the hands of independent doctors rather than the team itself.

"It's gotten to the point where a few players are making us all look bad, regardless if you do or don't (do drugs)," outfielder Tony Gwynn said. "I don't. And if we come up with something, I'm signing it. I don't give a bleep what the Players' Assn. says."

Said first baseman Steve Garvey: "Hopefully, we'll make progress. I'm quite sure we will."

Said Royster: "I feel we've become a unique case. Most of the guys are ready to do something about it. I was against testing. I said it all winter long. But my stand has changed totally now. I think, with the problems we've had, well, I'm just ready to show everybody I'm fine.

"Actually, it's nobody's business to know whether I'm clean or not, but under the circumstances, things have changed."

Teammate Garry Templeton, listening in, said: "I feel the same way."

But Terry Kennedy, the Padres' player representative, stressed that anything they do will involve the Major League Players Assn.

"We're just still talking about it among ourselves," he said. "We'll try to work something out, so that we can present it to the association, so that they can come back with something. Maybe we'll come up with something good that'll help all 26 teams."

What can be done? They can adopt the Orioles' system, or something similar to it.

The Orioles got their program started through attorney Ron Shapiro, who, ironically, is Hoyt's agent. Shapiro went to Johns Hopkins Hospital and Medical School for help, and things steamrolled.

In his program, it's up to the player. If he signs the voluntary agreement, he can be tested a minimum of three times and a maximum of six times in a year. It's up to independent Johns Hopkins doctors to test him. The Orioles can suggest to the doctors that a player be tested, but it is not ultimately the team's decision.

If a player tests positive, it is up to the doctors whether he needs treatment. If he must miss a game, the Orioles then are alerted--but all test results must be kept confidential. Testing is paid for by the team, and treatment is paid for by the player or through his medical insurance coverage.

"They (the Padres) could do what (Baltimore) did," Shapiro said Friday. "They can go to a hospital, preferably an academic institution, and ask the doctors there to create a program. They'd sign up with the hospital, and they'd have a program for testing and for treatment. It's feasible. I think they'd have to consult the players' association, though.

"But what's important is that it'll be a patient-physician relationship rather than a club-player relationship."

Only three of 40 Orioles didn't sign Shapiro's agreement.

Smith, according to Royster, told Padre players that Wiggins "might still be with us today" had there been a voluntary testing program. Wiggins twice had to enter drug centers and Smith said it was team policy to get rid of any player who had twice encountered drug problems.

So Wiggins was traded to Baltimore.

Smith said the policy will hold true for Hoyt as well.

However, Smith said he would not comment on the discussion he had Friday with the team.

"To be honest," he said, "it's none of your (the media's) business."

When pressed, he ended the news conference abruptly.

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