MLB OKs ban of ephedra in minors
Thursday, February 27
NEW YORK -- Baseball has banned players with minor league contracts from taking ephedra, the substance linked to the death of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler.
The decision was made Monday by commissioner Bud Selig and transmitted to the teams in a memorandum by Jennifer Gefsky, a lawyer in the labor relations department of the commissioner's office.
Players on 40-man major league rosters, including those on option to minor league teams, are not covered by the decision because they are members of the Major League Baseball Players Association. The players with major league contracts are covered by the drug-testing rules of the new collective bargaining agreement, which bans only drugs of abuse and certain illegal steroids.
The decision to ban ephedra among players with minor league contracts was first reported Thursday by The (Baltimore) Sun and was confirmed to The Associated Press by a baseball official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Minor league players, who are not unionized, have been tested for many drugs by baseball for several years.
Ephedra is banned by the NFL, NCAA and the International Olympic Committee. Baseball negotiators intended to propose last summer that it be banned in the major leagues, but after the players' association voiced opposition, management didn't include ephedra in its proposed list of banned substances, according to lawyers for both owners and the union.
Bechler, a pitcher who made his major league debut last year, died Feb. 17, a day after collapsing at spring training with heatstroke. A Florida medical examiner said the death may have been linked to an ephedra-based diet pill, Xenadrine RFA-1.
Players' association head Donald Fehr says the union will wait for toxicology reports before re-examining its stance on ephedra, which is available without prescriptions. Players say they should be allowed to take any legal substance.
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