World Anti-Doping Agency expresses "serious doubts" about WBC drug testing policy
By Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 17, 2006; Page E08
ANAHEIM, Calif., March 16 -- Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig said Thursday he has not yet decided whether to launch an investigation into San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds, who is the subject of two new books alleging steroid use, but insisted he will do what is in "the best interests of the sport."
"Nature will have to take its course," Selig said during an informal media briefing before the United States-Mexico game in the second round of the World Baseball Classic. "What decision I make will be [based] on what I believe we should do and what is clearly necessary in the best interests of the sport. . . . I spent the airplane ride out here today thinking about it, and I'll continue to."
Bonds has never tested positive for performance enhancing drugs under baseball's testing policy, which began in 2003, and any attempt to punish him outside of the terms of the program likely would be met with strong resistance from baseball's union. The new books allege Bonds used steroids and other drugs following the 1998 season.
The publication of the two books, Selig said, "really doesn't come into play here at all."
Selig said the inaugural WBC, which was launched as a joint venture between Major League Baseball and the union, has exceeded initial expectations in terms of fan interest, television ratings and the intensity of play.
"You could not have forecast that this would turn people on as much as it has," he said. " It's been an absolutely amazing event. "
Earlier Thursday, the World Anti-Doping Agency posted a statement on the agency's Web site expressing "serious doubts" about the WBC's drug-testing policy, charging that it might not adhere to the World Anti-Doping Code -- because several banned substances apparently were not on a list sent to players before the tournament -- and challenging tournament officials to disclose the specific details of its policy.
"Either baseball officials seriously want to rid their sport of doping," WADA President Richard Pound was quoted as saying, "or they want to brush the issue under the carpet."
MLB Executive Vice President of Labor Relations Rob Manfred, who helped negotiate the tournament's testing policy, said the policy was approved by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) and does in fact conform to the WADA standards.
Manfred accused Pound of making "untrue statements."