Smoltz says current policies 'not good for game'

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Atlanta Braves closer John Smoltz called on major league baseball to adopt tougher steroid testing policies.

Saying the sport's integrity is at stake, Smoltz added Sunday that he doesn't even understand the testing policy adopted as part of the collective bargaining agreement in 2002.

"The more this becomes a monster, the more it plays into everybody's mind," Smoltz said after a spring training workout. "There's a way they should do tests. Do them the way they should be done -- not a platform that's just a smoke screen."

Last season, baseball conducted random tests for steroids and between 5 percent and 7 percent came back positive. That triggered a clause in the labor agreement that allowed players to be punished this season if they were found using steroids.

But Dick Pound, head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, called the policy a "complete joke" and an "insult" to the fight against performance-enhancing drugs.

Under baseball's plan, the first positive test for steroid use would result in treatment only. A second positive would bring a fine or suspension, but a player would have to test positive five times to get a one-year suspension.

The code adopted by most Olympic sports calls for a minimum two-year ban for a first steroid positive and a lifetime ban for a second.

Smoltz doesn't think steroids are the primary reason that homers have gone up dramatically in recent years. He pointed to smaller ballparks, juiced-up baseballs and better weight training.

But Smoltz also said the issue of performance-enhacing drugs must be addressed in a more meaningful way.

"It's not right," he said. "It's not a level playing field."

Smoltz said he's never taken steroids and doesn't know of anyone who has, but he believes all players are being tainted by the transgressions of a few. He praised President Bush, former owner of the Texas Rangers, for raising the issue in his State of the Union address.

"This stuff did not just pop up out of nowhere," Smoltz said. "This controversy is not going to end until the studies and tests are done the right way."

Smoltz, the 1996 NL Cy Young Award winner, wondered at times whether certain players were using steroids. The increased power numbers only raise the suspicion.

"With some players, it's because of steroids," Smoltz said. "But it's not all because of steroids."

Four men associated with a San Francisco lab have been indicted on federal charges of providing steroids to athletes. Among them: the personal trainer for San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds.

Gary Sheffield, who played for the Braves the last two years, also testified before a grand jury that returned the indictments.

Bonds and Sheffield have denied using steroids, but Smoltz said it's time for baseball to eliminate any doubts.

"It's not good for the game. It's not good for the future of the game. It's not good for the kids who want to play this game," Smoltz said. "It sends the wrong message."