League has no recourse for old violations

NEW YORK -- New York Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield will not be penalized by the commissioner's office after his admission that he unknowingly used a cream two years ago that contained illegal steroids.

Sports Illustrated reported in this week's issue that the New
York outfielder was supplied a cream by BALCO, the California lab
at the center of a federal probe into illegal steroids

Sheffield said he applied the cream on his surgically repaired
right knee in 2002. He was not told it contained an illegal
steroid, the magazine said.

Under baseball's labor deal, players with major league contracts
were each tested once for steroids this season. A provision allows
more frequent testing if a joint management-labor panel of
physicians finds "reasonable cause."

"There is a reasonable-cause provision in the Basic Agreement,
but it is limited to activity within the last 12 months. Obviously,
this activity was before the 12-month window," Rob Manfred,
baseball's executive vice president of labor relations, said at
Yankee Stadium before Tuesday's AL playoff series opener against

"The more important issue is what are people doing today.
That's why we have a testing program and we have good information
on all major league players as a result of the testing program,"
Manfred said.

Sheffield also told ESPN he used another steroid called ``the
clear'' for two months, the network reported Tuesday. He said it
was to aid his recovery from workouts and that he stopped using it
because it wasn't helping.

Bob Holley, the lawyer for BALCO president Victor Conte, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press on Tuesday that "BALCO provided
Gary Sheffield with no illegal substances and the check BALCO
received from Sheffield was for legal nutritional supplements."

Sheffield refused to address the situation Tuesday but said it
would not distract him.

"I always speak my mind, like I told you all that before.
That's a story I did before, and I stick by that and that's the end
of it," he said.

"Unfortunately, everything always comes out when it's a special
moment for me and my teammates," he said. "Same thing happened
the first day of spring training, the same thing happens the first
day of the playoffs. I'm looking forward to getting it behind me
and moving forward."

Yankees manager Joe Torre said he would be surprised if the
issue distracts Sheffield.

"Sheff had to deal with this in spring training. He's all
baseball, as far as I'm concerned," Torre said. "I guess if
you're going to play in any town that gets you used to
distractions, it's this one. So maybe he's had some practice, being
able to focus on what he needs to focus on."