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Panel asked for info about league's drug program

WASHINGTON -- The NFL met Friday's deadline for turning over documents about its drug-testing results and policy to the congressional panel that held last month's hearing on steroids in baseball.

"They were just delivered. We'll start going through them," said Karen Lightfoot, spokeswoman for the House Government Reform Committee's ranking Democrat, Henry Waxman of California.

Waxman and committee chairman Tom Davis, a Virginia Republican, sent a letter to NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue on March 31 asking for information about the league's drug program. The letter asked for the number of drug tests each year, the number of positive results and which substances are tested for; it didn't require that the league reveal names of players.

"This afternoon the Government Reform Committee received documents from the NFL in response to our request for information about the league's steroid-testing policies. We appreciate commissioner Tagliabue's and the NFL's cooperation on this important public health issue," Davis and Waxman said in a
statement Friday. "The committee's investigators have started to review these documents. We will withhold comment on the documents until the review is complete."

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league provided all of the requested information.

Similar letters were sent Tuesday by Davis and Waxman to the heads of the NBA, NHL and five other sports organizations, setting April 12 as a deadline for turning over copies of their current and past drug-testing policies and information about how those were negotiated. The NCAA is also expected to be sent such a request.

During the committee's 11-hour hearing on steroids in baseball on March 17 -- when Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco and commissioner Bud Selig were among the witnesses -- several congressmen suggested that federal legislation might be needed to oversee drug testing in all U.S. sports.

The NFL has had random testing for steroids for the past 15 years; first-time offenders are suspended for at least four games. A total of 44 players have been suspended during that period for using the performance-enhancing substances.

The NFL has proposed toughening its testing standards to conform with a change in standards by the International Olympic Committee and World Anti-Doping Agency. A change would have to be approved by the NFL Players Association, whose executive director, Gene Upshaw, is a former offensive lineman who has been outspoken about the use of the substances in the sport.