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Pitcher: Owners can't be trusted to handle job

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Curt Schilling says he and fellow players would be more than willing to submit to steroid testing as long as Major League Baseball owners had no role in the administering of tests.

"I don't trust the Major League Baseball ownership group to handle drug testing for Major League Baseball," the Red Sox right-hander was quoted as saying in a Hartford Courant story published Wednesday.

"In my opinion, you find an independent third party that will handle drug testing free of ownership input and I'd bet you 99.9 percent of the players in baseball would say please do it," Schilling said. "I'd be all for it."

However, Schilling does agree with management's desire to restrict the use of
certain substances, saying Wednesday, "We need to get rid of steroids and drugs and all that stuff."

A's pitcher Tim Hudson, responding on air to ESPN Radio's Dan Patrick Wednesday, said, "Right now with the agreement that we signed with MLB, what's done is done. When the agreement is up in a few years, maybe we'll be able to negotiate something that's a little more stringent.

"Nobody in baseball wants this black cloud to be held over them for longer than it has to be," Hudson said. "I'm sure guys that are being blamed for steroids, that aren't on steroids, will want to clear their name."

A San Francisco Chronicle report in February claimed that Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield and other professional athletes received steroids from BALCO, a San Francisco-area nutritional supplements lab that is under federal investigation. The report helped spark a maelstrom, as spring training opened, that has yet to die down.

Bonds, Giambi and Sheffield repeatedly have denied using steroids. No athletes have been charged in the case, nor have any been identified in documents released by prosecutors.

"We had a drug test last year that we were told was absolutely confidential," Schilling told the Courant. "Come to find out a year later it isn't. That's the ownership in a nutshell. I don't trust them to do any of that stuff.

"If we can find an independent third party to handle drug testing, I'm all for it. I don't care, I'll [urinate] as many times a year as you need me to [urinate]," Schilling said.

Two third-party companies administered last year's survey tests -- Comprehensive Drug Testing and Quest Diagnostics. The results for certain players have been subpoenaed by a grand jury in California. The subpoenas are returnable April 8.

Schilling repeated these sentiments following Boston's 3-1 win over the Indians on Wednesday.

Selig has attempted to limit talk about steroids. He recently sent a directive to all 30 teams -- but not to players directly -- telling them to decline comment on the BALCO case "specifically" and performance-enhancing drugs "generally." Schilling joined a growing number of players who are speaking out against baseball's testing policy.

An industry source told the Houston Chronicle that commissioner Bud Selig is contemplating using his far-reaching "best interests of the game" clause in an attempt to bypass baseball's collective bargaining agreement in order to implement a more aggressive testing plan for performance-enhancing drugs. Selig's plan reportedly would result in longer suspensions for players who test positive.

Unless significant progress is made in negotiations between the owners and the Players Association, Selig may act within the next 10 days, the source said. Players Association executive director Don Fehr reportedly is receptive to having at least a "constructive dialogue" with ownership.

Schilling teammate Johnny Damon, Boston's union player representative, told the Courant that he believes owners are using the steroids issue to fracture the union.

"The owners know that we are divided, with some players wanting the testing and other players not," Damon told the newspaper. "They know that's a very key issue, especially a key issue going into the next bargaining session, which will happen in a couple years [the CBA runs through 2006]. I just think they want to try to tear the union apart with that. That's something that you are going to be divided on. I think that's why a lot of guys want to do the test, to clear their name."

Damon also told the Courant that he believes there are some owners who do not want to rid the game of steroids because it boosts attendance.

"I actually believe the owners want [steroids] in the game," Damon said. "What boosted attendance in baseball more than home runs, guys taking steroids and hitting home runs? That boosted attendance. It boosted salaries. It boosted money for owners."

Damon said that BALCO should bear the brunt of the blame.

"Bonds, Sheffield and Giambi are going on trial," Damon told the Courant. "They're getting in trouble because another company got in trouble and to save their time they spilled the beans. So that's what I'm kind of upset about. It's unfortunate. It's like they got convicted of a murder and they're on trial for murder."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.