Chairman TOM DAVIS. We have votes on, so if Members feel they have to leave to go to vote, come back. We have three votes. I am going to try to get the testimony in of Mr. Schilling and Mr. Thomas. If we stay as a block, I think they will hold the vote.
Mr. Schilling, you have been asked here today because you have been an outspoken opponent of steroid use in professional sports, and we are happy that there are some people that want to help you in that regard, and thank you very much.
Mr. SCHILLING. Chairman Davis, Congressman Waxman, members of the committee and other distinguished guests and invitees, nearly 2 weeks ago I had the extreme honor of standing on the West Lawn of the White House alongside my teammates and other members of the Boston Red Sox world championship team to accept the congratulations of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Following that, my teammates and I made a visit to Walter Reed Hospital here in Washington, DC. During that visit my teammates and I had the extreme honor of meeting and visiting with the heroic men and women serving in our country’s great Armed Forces. As a son of a man who served almost two decades in the U.S. Army, as a member of the 101st Airborne, with a brother who served in Vietnam, a cousin who served in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Carl Vincent, and another cousin who recently finished his service in the U.S. Army as a member of the Rangers, Green Berets and finally the Delta Force, I think that visit, with absolutely no disrespect to our esteemed President and Vice President, was the highlight of many of our trips and some of our lives. I believe that visit made my teammates and I aware of how fortunate we are to live in this country and how fortunate we were able to bring joy that afternoon to those courageous service people just because we are Major League Baseball players.
Being a professional baseball player has put me in a position to try to bring awareness to certain issues and causes that affect so many people in our great country. For example, my recognition as a player has enabled me to bring an increasing awareness to the terrible disease known as ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, which afflicts some 30,000 Americans at any one time, and to act as an advocate to try to find a cure for the disease. My position as a player, along with the dedication of my wife Shonda, a cancer survivor, has enabled the two of us to bring awareness to the terrible problem that is skin cancer, or melanoma. Our foundation tries to educate young Americans on the dangers of exposure to the sun. In fact, at this moment the bill has passed the Arizona Senate and is awaiting a vote by the House of Representatives that would mandate that all children be taught sun safety in school, the first such mandate anywhere in the United States.
My hope is that this hearing results in an increased awareness of steroids and their inherent danger to America’s youth. I understand from the invitation I received to appear before this committee that my presence has been requested because I have been outspoken on this issue. I’m honored to be cochairman on an advisory committee, tasked with putting together recommendations on how to prevent steroid usage among young people. I recognize that professional athletes are role models for many of the youth in this country. Most athletes take this role very seriously, and I hope through my appearance here that I am conveying my seriousness and understanding of the issue.
While I don’t profess to have the medical expertise to adequately describe the dangers of steroid use, I do believe I have the expertise to comment on whether steroids are necessary to excel in athletics. I think it is critical to convey to the youth who desire to excel in sports that steroids are not the answer, and steroids are not necessary in order to excel in any athletic event, and success is achieved through hard work, dedication and perseverance. I also hope that by being here I can raise the level of awareness on several other fronts. First, I hope the committee recognizes the danger of possibly glorifying the so-called author scheduled to testify today or by indirectly assisting him to sell more books through his claim that what he is doing is somehow good for his country or the game of the baseball. A book which devotes hundreds of pages to glorifying steroid usage, and which contends that steroid use is justified and will be the norm in the country in several years is a disgrace, was written irresponsibly, and sends exactly the opposite message that needs to be sent to kids. The allegations made in that book, the attempt to smear the names of players, both past and present, having been made by one who for years vehemently denied steroid use should be seen for what they are, an attempt to make money at the expense of others. I hope we come out of this proceeding aware of what we are dealing with when we talk about that so-called author and not create a buzz that results in young athletes buying the book and being misled on the issues and dangers of steroids.
I must tell you that I hope as a result of this hearing there is a better awareness of the steroid program recently implemented by Major League Baseball and its Players Association. That program, though certainly not perfect, and I dare say there is no such thing as a testing program, is a substantial step in the right direction that appears from initial statistics to be having the desired effect; that is, removing steroids from the game of baseball. Statistics have shown from 2003 to 2004, the number of players using steroids in the Major Leagues has gone from 5 to 7 percent to 1.7 percent. In yesterday’s New York Times it was reported that there were 96 positive tests during the 2003 testing period. In 2004, that number saw a dramatic decrease as 12 players tested positive. I see that as progress. I see that as positive. It troubles me when I hear the program being identified as a joke, a travesty, a program not designed to rid baseball of steroids. I think those numbers show this to be a meaningful program, one that is working, and steroid usage is dropping. The Players Association in an unprecedented move reopened the collective bargaining agreement for the sole purpose of strengthening drug testing procedures and its penalties. You may view that reopening of an agreement as a nonissue or one of minimal consequences, but we didn’t.
It appears that the main complaint about the current program revolves around the current penalties for being caught or failing a test. It is my view as a 19-year veteran of professional baseball there will be no system of suspensions or discipline that can be implemented that will stand up to or match the agreement made by the players that positive test results will be made public, subjecting the player to public humiliation and labeling as a steroid user or a cheater. Given the intense media coverage that now permeates professional sports, there is no doubt in my mind that any player who is caught after this program has been implemented will, for all intents and purposes, have his career blacklisted forever. When a player’s suspension is over, he may be able to lose the label of a player who is under suspension, but I am convinced he will never lose the label of a steroid user.
While not a part of my original prepared statement, I think it is important to address the issue that has arisen with respect to the issue of public disclosure of test results under the current testing program. It is my belief that the positive test results will be made public, and it is the public disclosure which constitutes the real teeth of the testing program as far as I am concerned. When I learned upon my arrival in Washington yesterday that there was some question about public disclosure, I looked into the public disclosure issue because of my beliefs. Based on that, I’m still of the belief that positive test results will be made public. And I know for a fact that 98.3 percent of the players who tested clean want the results to be made public because they know the key to the elimination of steroids is a public recognition of who the cheaters are. Members of the committee, do I believe steroids are being used by Major League Baseball players? Yes. Past and present testing says as much. Do I believe we should continue to test and monitor steroid usage in Major League Baseball? Absolutely. I believe the message has been heard by players, and that serious, positive, forward- thinking steps have been taken on the issue.
I urge the committee to focus its efforts in that direction and not dwell on what may have occurred in the past. I also urge the committee to not make this process just about baseball. Steroids and supplement usage appears to not be a baseball problem, but a society problem. Everywhere you look, we are bombarded by advertising of supplements and feel-good medications. I urge you to evaluate the way in which these products are manufactured and the way in which they are marketed. If we are going to send a message to the young athlete that steroid use is bad and steroids are not necessary to achieve success, you cannot allow that message to be drowned out by the manufacturers’ advertising to the contrary. If the government thought enough of American youth to rally against the tobacco industry and its advertising to our youth, why should the supplement industry be any different?
I cannot conclude my statement without expressing my admiration to the Hootons and Garibaldis for appearing, and I extend my deepest sympathy to each of them for their loss. As a father of four children, I cannot begin to imagine the pain they must be suffering. To the Hootons and Garibaldis, I want to say this: Having been appointed as a cochairman on the advisory committee tasked with educating our youth about the dangers of steroid usage, I would welcome their input in helping the committee move forward. Thank you for your attention and the chance to speak.
Chairman TOM DAVIS. Thank you very much.