Ueberroth to Explain by Monday : Talks With Union Delay Drug Plan

Times Staff Writer

Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth's announcement of a new drug plan has been delayed because of talks with the Major League Players Assn. relating to a joint drug agreement.

However, a spokesman in the commissioner's office said Thursday that Ueberroth still intends to make a statement before the season opens Monday.

Ueberroth has said that he intends to reveal his own drug program at that time, in addition to presenting specifics regarding implementation of the penalties he handed down Feb. 28 as the result of his investigation into last summer's Pittsburgh drug trial.

The spokesman, requesting anonymity, said Ueberroth has been meeting with executives of the players' association in an attempt to reach agreement on a drug program, permitting the two sides to make a joint announcement.

"He'll still make a statement on his own," the spokesman said. "But he's trying to use every hour, every bit of time (before Monday's openers), to see if he can reach some kind of agreement."

The spokesman refused to speculate on the likelihood of an agreement, but a source in the commissioner's office said they are closer than they have ever been, although an agreement is not likely soon.

Reached at his New York office, Donald Fehr, executive director of the players' association, confirmed that there have been discussions with Ueberroth but said it would be premature to draw conclusions.

A union source, also requesting anonymity, said the union remains strongly opposed to mandatory, non-cause testing, implying that a compromise within the framework of voluntary testing may be possible.

It is believed that Ueberroth hopes to base an agreement on random testing.

A three-day arbitration hearing on a union grievance that charged the 26 clubs with having violated the collective bargaining agreement by including testing clauses in many new contracts ended in New York Thursday.

The union asked arbitrator Tom Roberts to rule the clauses unenforceable. A decision is expected next week.

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