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The Extra Point

By Jeff Capen
Staff writer

Major league baseball's steroid policy double edged sword:

League rules tighten as drug tests increase in frequency

When Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan H. "Bud" Selig announced the adoption of a tougher steroid testing policy, he and the league took a major step in cleaning up the mess that the performance-enhancing drug scandal has left behind.

Players, including top minor-league prospects, will now be tested twice as frequently during the offseason as they've been in the past.

Those who have tested positive are being forced into community service, reaching out to youngsters and raising awareness of the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs.

At the same time, he irritated many fans, including myself, by giving amnesty to all players previously implicated in steroid scandals, specifically the 80-plus players named in the Mitchell Report.

For those who are unaware, the Mitchell Report was a formal paper submitted to the commissioner by former United States Senator George Mitchell to share the findings of his private investigation into the darker side of Major League Baseball.

Approximately 80 current and former players were mentioned in the report, most notably Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, two successful pitchers who might have been Hall-of-Fame bound.

The report also complemented knowledge already possessed involving Barry Bonds' alleged foray into steroid abuse.

Now these men, and all others who allegedly (and in some cases, definitely) abused steroids at a point in their careers to gain an advantage in the game of baseball, have been forgiven. Clem-ens' and Pettitte's names have been essentially cleared (though Clemens may still face federal perjury charges.)

Barry Bonds' career home run record will not wield an asterisk in the record books as many thought it would and should.

Hundreds of steroid abusers in the game of baseball, both past and present, are safe from the consequences of their actions. Maybe you're indifferent.

But to me, this amnesty is spreading a message to some fans, especially the younger set, that steroid abuse is okay. That cheating, lying and deception are sins easily forgiven.

Selig's new policy is beneficial for the history of baseball. However, Selig is attempting to completely erase the game's tainted past, leaving many, like myself and hopefully some of you readers, shaking their heads.