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Five Jamaicans track and field athletes fail doping tests

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KINGSTON, Jamaica -- Five Jamaican track and field athletes tested positive for doping, although none of the nation's premier sprinters is among the group, a newspaper reported.

The Jamaica Amateur Athletic Association and the country's anti-doping agency said they could not confirm the report.

The Jamaica Observer, citing unidentified sources, said four men and one woman failed tests for banned drugs at last month's national championships in Kingston.

There were two members of the men's 400-meter relay team, two on the men's 1,600-meter relay and a female runner in the 1,600 relay. All were chosen for Jamaica's 46-member team at next month's world championships in Berlin.

"We are waiting to get some information and we are waiting on the facts," said Herb Elliott, a member of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

After the New York Times reported Tuesday that Sammy Sosa had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003, the Chicago Tribune polled its Hall of Fame voters for their verdict on sending the slugger to Cooperstown.

Dave van Dyck: The "yes" vote has changed to a question mark, to an I-don't-know-what-to-do-about-the-entire-era vote. Thank goodness, we have four or five years to clear the air on what was done by whom. Maybe. Allegedly.

Mark Gonzales: Character is taken into consideration on the Hall of Fame ballot, and Sosa could face trouble for lying to a congressional committee as well as testing positive the same year he corked a bat. He's banned on my ballot.

Philip Hersh: I love being able to say, "I told you so" on this one. And what I had told you was, "No, no, a thousand times no" in answer to the question of whether I would vote for Sosa when he is eligible for the Hall of Fame. Now I would make it, "a million times no."

Dan McGrath: I voted yes - reluctantly - last week. I'm not going to jump ship until the hysteria dies down and we can put the Steroid Era in some type of context. The whole mess heightens your appreciation for Andre Dawson types.

Fred Mitchell: As we take the temperature of Sosa's Hall worthiness - some four years until we will actually submit our votes - the obvious answer is "no" following the latest revelation. Hopefully we will have more answers, better voting guidelines and more worthy players by 2013.

Phil Rogers: Flip flop. Flop flip. Sosa would have gotten a qualified vote from me before the report of his positive steroid test in 2003. But the voting today is no way, no how. Sosa's Hall of Fame qualifications were all about his power. Don't vote for Mark McGwire; won't vote for Sosa.

Paul Sullivan: If Sosa ever gets on the ballot in the Gladiator's Hall of Fame or the Cork Hall of Fame, I'd be happy to cast a ballot for him. But Tuesday's report is the smoking gun that prevents me from giving him my Hall of Fame vote.

Bob Verdi: When I suggested last week that we be patient (what's the hurry?), I meant it to allow for more information, such as arrived Tuesday. If he cheated, my vote would be no.

   - Chicago Tribune
Canseco's ready to sue. Jose Canseco plans to file a class-action lawsuit against Major League Baseball and the players' union, saying he has been ostracized for going public with tales of steroid use in the sport.

Canseco said yesterday that he has discussed the suit with lawyers and intends to enlist Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro to join in the suit.

Canseco said the basis of the suit would be "lost wages - in some cases, defamation of character."

"Because I used steroids and I came out with a book, I was kicked out of the game, but I have not been inducted into the Hall of Fame," Canseco said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press.

"A lot of these players have not been inducted into the Hall of Fame: Mark McGwire and so forth. They're losing salaries, because obviously when you're inducted into the Hall of Fame, you get asked to do certain, you know, appearances and shows and so forth, which incorporates income. So there is a major income loss.

"Not even that, baseball blackballs you from their family, meaning you can't have a future proper reference from them, a job, no managerial jobs, no coaching jobs, nothing. They completely sever you."

The 1986 AL Rookie of the Year and 1988 AL MVP, Canseco hit 462 home runs from 1985 to 2001 and currently is 32d on the career list. In books published in 2005 and last year, he detailed steroid use by himself and others.

He appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2007 and received just six votes, 21 below the amount necessary to remain in the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot in future years. McGwire, eighth on the career list with 583 homers, received 118 Hall of Fame votes this year, which came to 21.9 percent. That's well below the 75 percent threshold needed for election and down from 128 votes in each of his first two appearances on the ballot.

Rob Manfred, MLB's executive vice president for labor relations, declined comment. Michael Weiner, the union's general counsel, did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

   - Associated Press

Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde appealed his suspension to The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which confirmed receipt of the appeal on Friday.

The National Anti-doping Tribunal of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) imposed the two-year sanction on Valverde on May 11 in response to his alleged involvement in the Operación Puerto affair and the fact that samples taken from him after stage 14 of last year's Tour de France matched one of those found in the clinic of disgraced Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. CONI had cited grounds that Valverde had violated UCI anti-doping regulations.

Valverde made two points in his appeal. First, he stated that CONI has no jurisdiction. Second, he asked to be exonerated of any sanction and to have the matter terminated.

Since the suspension was issued, Valverde has continued to race outside of Italy. He recently won the overall classification at the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré, which wrapped up on June 14.

CAS intends to consult with both parties as the next step in the procedure.

Do you think that Manny getting caught has something to do with Big Pappi Ortiz batting horrible, as one can only assume, one has something to do with the other, and from the looks of things, where do we go from here on the Ortiz hitting debacle,

On the evening that David Ortiz hit his first home run of the 2009 season, the Red Sox designated hitter was batting .203. His on-base percentage was a measly .317; his OPS an eye-opening .610.

After that night, there was hope. Flickering, indeed, but hope nonetheless.

Today, the flame is out. There is no hope for Big Papi.

In the 10 games which Ortiz has played since his lone bright spot of the season on May 20 vs. the Blue Jays, he has managed just four hits: three singles and a double. He’s batting .100 over that stretch, and his OBP has slipped to .284. His OPS: .570.

It’s become borderline cliché to ask, “What’s wrong with Big Papi?”

Obviously a move needs to be and will be made to improve an offense that last week started to feel the effects of Ortiz’s struggles. They’re 3-4 on this current road trip, which considering their road troubles thus far this season isn’t all bad. But they’ve scored just 27 runs over the last week, averaging fewer than four per game.

Unless there’s some lingering sense in the front office that a “vacation” can aid Ortiz so that he might contribute something, anything, down the road (and oh, yeah, next season too) your full-time DH for the last 2-3 months of this season will feature the likes of Adam Dunn, Victor Martinez, Matt Holliday, or ... well, Julio Lugo is a better DH option, isn’t he?

The sight of Ortiz riding the pine, a pinch-hitting opportunity nobody wants to have to utilize, will perhaps be even sadder to witness than this prolonged slump. Imagine, come playoff time, if the Sox are fortunate to be playing in October, a postseason roster that does not have Ortiz’s name on it.

Barring some miraculous turn of events, that would be the case the Sox face in ’09.

Clearly, a phantom injury needs to pop up sooner or later. Send Ortiz to Florida, where he can work on his swing. Maybe something, anything, comes back and he can knock a few off the Wall down the stretch. At the very least, it gets him away from the team, the fans, and the road, none of which is helping him rediscover any semblance of the ballplayer he once was.

It’s not getting any better. In fact, it’s getting worse. And the more we have to watch Ortiz’s epic struggles, the more impatient the fans are going to become. Even icons don't have a shelf life of carte blanche. We know how fiercely Terry Francona likes to protect his players, but seeing Ortiz in the lineup nearly every night is doing nothing to save him from himself.

Players have emerged from slumps in the past. And maybe there is hope for 2010. But right now, no signs point to a sudden turnaround any time soon. Shelf him and pray. That's about the best option.

There is nothing positive to take from Ortiz’s lost season. The Fenway Park plaque boasting him as the Greatest Clutch Hitter reads like a gravestone these days, memorializing the death of a Red Sox legend's career.

In the last few years, we have seen the All-Time Home Run King (Barry Bonds), the former Single-Season Home Run King (Mark McGwire), a pitcher with an unprecedented Seven Cy Young Awards (Roger Clemens), and a hitter who clubbed more 60 home run seasons than any player in history (Sammy Sosa) publicly humiliate themselves while insisting they never cheated the game of baseball. Baseball’s list of statistical giants who might not reach Cooperstown added another member this week.

Major League Baseball was hit hard Saturday morning when Sports Illustrated columnists Selena Robert and David Epstein reported perennial All-Star Alex Rodriguez tested positive for anabolic steroids during the 2003 season. For those keeping score at home, that was the year he won the American League MVP Award and the American League Home Run Crown.

This crime against baseball is magnified by the fact that Rodriguez has stated his innocence of steroid use on multiple occasions, most notably in a 2007 interview with Katie Couric. Alex Rodriguez’s failed drug test caught my by surprise, because through all of the previously mentioned steroid cases, I still believed that some Major Leaguers were steroid-free.

I still believed in the “clean guys.” I believed in the A-Rods, the Chipper Joneses, the Ken Griffeys, and the Derek Jeters. I believed in the guys who came through the league and filled out their adult bodies with no signs of excessive growth. I believed that someday A-Rod would take his rightful place atop the All-Time Home Run list, and while doing so he would overtake a man who had greatly tarnished baseball. Now, all of my beliefs have changed.

Professional athletes have failed to take the lead in the effort to keep children from using steroids, the leader of a group that Congress created to study the growing problem said.

"I find it hard to believe that the leagues and players' associations cannot identify professional athletes who would be willing to take time out of their schedules to discuss such an important topic with their young fans," Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, said today.

What is worse, many of the people who should be role models for young athletes are still using performance-enhancing drugs, even though they know the dangers of the drugs and the stiff penalties they face if they get caught, Davis said.

Davis spoke at a meeting of the Zero Tolerance panel, a roundtable of representatives from major professional sports leagues, pro player associations, college and high school athletic associations, and anti-doping organizations.

Representatives of the National Football League and National Basketball Association argued that many stars have participated in advertising campaigns and a forthcoming DVD to discourage young athletes from turning to steroids to boost their performance.

But they all seemed to agree that while much has been accomplished since the Government Reform Committee held headline-making hearings last year into the use of steroids by Major League baseball players, there is still a lot left to do.

As examples, Davis pointed to the recent doping scandals involving cyclist Floyd Landis and sprinters Justin Gatlin, LaTasha Jenkins and Marion Jones.

"The good news is that these people are getting caught for their illicit drug use," Davis said. "The bad news is that athletes are still using steroids despite fair warnings of the penalties they could face if they're caught. One might wonder whether these penalties are enough of a deterrent, but that discussion is for another day."

But he said there is also room for optimism.

"We've got a long road ahead of us, but I think we've made a difference," Davis told the group as it gathered for the last time to vote on its recommendations.

Barnaby Harkins, representing the National Basketball Association, agreed.

"I think over the past year and a half we have seen a dramatically increased testing and enforcement regime in all of the professional leagues, and there has been a much greater emphasis on education and outreach to student athletes," Harkins said.

Davis told participants their focus should now be on how steroids can be prevented from becoming an even larger problem for future generations.

According to a 2003 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 1 million high school students have tried steroids. Davis wants the Government Accountability Office to gather fresh information on the number of youngsters using steroids today to get a better sense of the size of the problem

The representative from the National Football League reported that the league has expanded its curriculum on steroids, human growth hormones and other performance-enhancing substances at its mandatory orientation program for all recently drafted players.

The Major League baseball representative stated that it has contributed $1 million to develop a comprehensive nationwide education program to teach young athletes about the dangers of using steroids.

Davis said he was disappointed in the lack of player participation among professional athletes in getting the word out by speaking to student athletes on the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs.

Ben Zenko, representing the NFL Players Association, took exception to criticism, saying members of his group "do participate on an active basis in a variety of programs."

Several roundtable participants pointed to the millions of dollars their organizations had contributed to the production and distribution of anti-steroid public service announcements aimed at young audiences.

Dr. Gary Wadler, a New York University School of Medicine professor, said that a more comprehensive approach to the problem is needed, one that is not limited to anabolic steroids.

"We need to more than just say no," Wadler told the group. Our collective efforts must be more than just rhetorical. We cannot continue to tinker at the margins.




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