INTEGRITY IN PROFESSIONAL SPORTS ACT
Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I am pleased to join my colleagues Senator BUNNING, Senator MCCAIN, Senator STEVENS and Senator ROCKEFELLER, as a cosponsor of the Integrity in Professional Sports Act. While it is unfortunate that it has come to this, it is becoming abundantly clear that Major League Baseball and other professional leagues are still more concerned about protecting their own collective bargaining rights than cleaning up their sport.
I have said it before and I will say it again. The abuse of illegal steroids by professional athletes is inexcusable and has no place in competition at any level. Unfortunately, this has become a problem that we can no longer afford to ignore. The most recent studies indicate that possibly up to five to seven percent of students, even as young as middle school, have admitted to using steroids. This is an alarming statistic. If Major League Baseball won't step up to the plate on this issue, we will do it for them.
Every day, millions of young people in this country dream of one day playing ball in the big leagues. When superstar athletes, with their multi-million dollar contracts and lucrative endorsements are seen using steroids to improve their performance, it should come as no surprise that many young athletes would choose to use steroids to improve their own performance.
Professional athletes must be held to a higher standard when it comes to illegal substances such as steroids. Like it or not, young people look up to professional athletes as role models. The Integrity in Professional Sports Act will require all professional sports leagues to adopt a unified standard for testing as well as tougher penalties for any athlete found in violation of these standards. Unlike testing today, this act will require athletes to test during the off-season and frequently during their season of play. Athletes will face severe penalties for a positive test: a two-year ban for the first offense and a lifetime ban for the second.
I have little doubt that this act will aid in the effort to rid professional sports of these dangerous substances and bring integrity back to the game. We must send a strong message to professional athletes. If you choose to cheat and use illegal steroids, you risk ending your career. In turn, our young people will hopefully get the message that using steroids to improve athletic performance is absolutely the wrong way to go.
While this bill specifically addresses professional athletics, the importance of stopping steroid abuse extends well beyond the track, baseball diamond, or football field. We must continue to focus on the health and future of our children. I encourage my colleagues to join in support of this legislation to set the standard for fair competition.