As bad as the steroid issue has been over the past several years, International Baseball Federation president Harvey Schiller thinks he can see the light.
The IBAF’s top official has been confronted with the steroid problem at seemingly every stop during the campaign to get baseball back on the Olympic program. Schiller, however believes recent developments are slowly turning the tide in baseball’s favor.
“I think that the key to this is we’re going to a no-tolerance kind of activity,” Schiller said after a press conference on Thursday in Tokyo. “And the fact that (U.S.) government is now into it and prosecuting people and I think the kind of shame people feel when they’re exposed will help the overall effort.”
After what has happened in the press in the last few weeks, who would want to go through that,” he added.
Schiller also noted that at the steroid problem hasn’t yet become a major issue on the international stage.
“We haven’t had a problem at our level,” Schiller said. “So the key now is how do you keep sports clean? For any sport.”
Despite the lack of a major problem in international competition, the baseball powers-that-be understand the importance on finding a solution.
“I think it’s in everybody’s best interest to get this thing fixed,” Schiller said. “I can’t point my finger at other sports, but if you measure us against other Olympic sports, where do we stand?”
From the IBAF standpoint, Schiller says the sports governing body is doing all it can to be proactive and combat the issue.
“We’re increasing the number of tests, we have out of competition testing, we’ve hired a great guy to administer the program that used to work for WADA and we’re picking the best labs,” Schiller said.
“I’m a Ph.D chemist so you can’t fool me on what your taking,” the IBAF head joked.
There have been calls for Major League Baseball to subject its players to stricter testing, even with the recent changes the MLB has made to its program.
Many times it’s been tough for the IBAF, MLB and the player’s association to find a common ground. Although Schiller praised the efforts by the leaders of those organizations.
“I’ve got to say, the commissioner and his staff and Don Fehr have been very, very cooperative on all this,” Schiller said referring to MLB commissioner Bud Selig and union head Donald Fehr.
“They’ve got to answer their own questions. I can’t answer them for them. But I can’t challenge the kind of cooperation I’ve been getting.”
This all comes against the backdrop of the IBAF’s fight to get baseball back into the Olympics in 2016. The IBAF has been proactive on that issue as well, already holding talks with four finalists for the 2016 Games.
“All the four cities have a strong history in baseball,” Schiller said. “Both Rio and Madrid were bid cities for 2012, when baseball was supposed to be on the program. So they already have a plan in place.
“Baseball certainly for Chicago and Tokyo would be very easy to add to the program. For those two cities baseball would certainly be an economic advantage. Because of the capacity of the stadiums and the interest of the public.”
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