Thursday, August 8, 2013

After widely mocked pitch by George W. Bush, steroids knocked out of the ballpark

His aides wanted to delete it from his speech, and President George W. Bush was mocked by ESPN and Meryl Streep for it afterward. But when he used his 2004 State of the Union address to raise the issue of steroids in baseball, it boosted the issue to the top levels of politics.

Nine years later, analysts say Major League Baseball may never have reached the point this week where it issued the biggest suspensions in 90 years had official Washington not turned the spotlight on performance enhancing drugs (PEDs)

Soon after Mr. Bush’s remarks, a House committee opened a public set of hearings that would, over the course of four years, call some of baseball’s biggest stars to testify — with some refusing to testify and others vehemently denying steroid use.

Months after his 2005 appearance, one of those players, Rafael Palmeiro, would be suspended under baseball’s doping policy — the first in a line of suspensions culminating this week with MLB’s announcement that Yankees star Alex Rodriguez and 12 others would be forced off the field.

“Those hearings basically changed the game,” said former Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, who was chairman for the 2005 hearings and ranking Republican for a second round in 2008. “Without them, it’s hard to see how you were going to get any changes.”

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