Washington, DC—Today, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27), a member of the House Government Reform Committee, which is holding a hearing entitled “Restoring Faith in America’s Pastime: Evaluating Major League Baseball’s Efforts to Eradicate Steroid Use,” released the following opening statement for the record:
“Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Waxman, thank you for calling this hearing today on steroid use in baseball. I hope we can use today’s hearing as a platform to address a major public health problem: the growth in steroid use by kids, and its relation to steroid use by ball players.
“In the past decade or so, rumor and innuendo have swirled around Major League Baseball and the use of steroids by players. Unfortunately, because little action was taken by Major League Baseball to prove or disprove those rumors, and despite its knowledge that a serious problem existed, baseball is now under a dark cloud. Americans are concerned not only that their national pastime is perhaps fraudulent or cheating them, but that it is setting a poor example for their children among whom steroid use has grown threefold in the last decade.
“I am here today to get to the heart of the problem; to find out what the League knew and when, and how it responded, to find out how pervasive steroid use is in baseball, how players got illegal drugs, to find out what the League is doing to stop steroid use in baseball, and to find out how we can all fight the scourge of steroid use on the high school baseball diamond and in the school locker room.
“This is the first step toward gathering more information on how pervasive the problem is and having some of the premiere players, both current and past, as well as others, parents of kids who committed suicide as the result of their depression resulting from anabolic steroid use, help us understand and better address the problem. Today’s hearing will question the depth and severity of the problem to help determine future action either by the Congress, or by Major League Baseball.
“This is, in the end, not about what any of our witnesses today did or did not do, it is about a public health problem and the half million high school kids using steroids. I hope that the League will be put on notice that they need to do a better job with respect to policing themselves; that a $10,000 dollar fine is a paltry punishment for using an illegal drug. The bottom line is high school kids are using steroids. Their use is pervasive and growing; that is a serious public health problem. When kids see the big name players who are alleged to have used steroids, it encourages those who aspire to make it to professional baseball that this is a good route from which to get to the majors. Let’s change that reality and create a newer healthier one.”