Ueberroth Submits Drug Plan--Based on Minors' Program

Times Staff Writer

Commissioner Peter Ueberroth distributed copies of his new drug plan Saturday.

The media wasn't on the mailing list.

Nor was Ueberroth available for comment.

Neither were any specifics announced concerning either the drug plan or implementation of the penalties Ueberroth had levied after investigating last summer's Pittsburgh drug trial.

Ueberroth had said he would address both topics before Monday's season opener.

Saturday, however, it was left to a spokesman for the commissioner to announce only that copies of the new drug plan had been mailed to the Major League Players Assn., the 26 clubs and many player agents.

Questioned regarding the Feb. 28 penalties, the spokesman said only that verification would be handled through Ueberroth's office on a confidential basis and that it will be up to the respective clubs, players and agents to determine how and when the 11 players who were suspended conditionally would satisfy the financial and community service obligations, which will enable them to play this year.

Ueberroth will reportedly discuss details of his drug plan at a press conference Monday. These details were learned regarding the plan:

--It is based on the minor league program and calls for four random tests on a mandatory basis between March and October.

--It is apparently devoid of a specific disciplinary structure, carrying no penalty if a player tests positive once and requiring only that a player who tests positive more than once receives medical help. Sources who requested anonymity said there is nothing beyond that.

--Testing will be administered through the commissioner's office by Dr. Tony Daly of Los Angeles, who was head of the medical section for the Los Angeles Olympic Games, and Dr. Kim Jasper, who was in charge of Olympic doping control.

--Urinalysis testing will be for marijuana, heroin, cocaine and morphine, with a premium placed on confidentiality. Codes known only to the player and doctor will be employed on all specimens. The test results will be available to only the player and doctor. Neither the commissioner nor the clubs will have access to the results. The plan will affect only those players who have already accepted testing clauses as part of guaranteed contracts and will take the form of a two-year test, after which it will be re-evaluated.

Reached by phone Saturday night, Donald Fehr, executive director of the Major League Players Assn., said Ueberroth did not have the authority to impose a unilateral testing plan. Fehr said he has informed the players that they are under no obligation to be tested.

"I don't treat this as anything terribly significant," Fehr said of the Ueberroth plan. "It's just something he said he was going to do, and apparently felt he had to follow through.

"Our position has been that he can't require players to be tested unless there is an agreement with the union.

"We don't think any of the testing clauses can be enforced, and now even the owners have taken the position that the only enforceable clauses are those in guaranteed contracts."

Fehr said the owners' Player Relations Committee took that position during last week's arbitration hearing on a union grievance stemming from the owners' refusal to guarantee contracts unless they included a testing clause. The hearing recessed Thursday and will resume April 29.

While approximately 500 major league contracts now include testing clauses, only about 45 are guaranteed. Fehr said the PRC's admission diminishes the extent of the problem, but the union remains strongly opposed to mandatory testing. Fehr said the grievance would be pursued even if only one contract was at stake.

In the meantime, representatives of the union and commissioner's office have been meeting in an attempt to reach an agreement on a drug plan. Fehr said there is a tentative arrangement to meet again next week.

Asked if progress has been made, he said: "I don't know yet. We've narrowed differences, but I don't know if we've narrowed the most significant differences or if that's even possible.

"We'll either reach an agreement," Fehr said, "or we'll at least finally have a decision (via the current arbitration) on the mandatory testing issue.

"The most meaningful resolution would be with an agreement, but it would be premature for me to speculate on the likelihood of that.

"Why don't you ask Peter?"

Unfortunately, Peter Ueberroth took the weekend off.

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