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Congressional committee summons Tagliabue

WASHINGTON (March 31, 2005) -- The same Congressional committee that conducted hearings into steroids in baseball has summoned NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue to testify about how football regulates the performance-enhancing substances.

The Government Reform Committee also said it will summon representatives of the NBA, NHL, NCAA, U.S. Track and Field and Major League Soccer to discuss steroids in their sports.

"As the committee has stated publicly numerous times, its focus on the performance-enhancing drug use in sports is not limited to professional baseball," the committee said in a letter signed by committee chairman Rep. Tom Davis and ranking Democrat Rep. Henry Waxman.

"As part of this investigation, we are requesting basic information on steroid policies from a number of sports leagues."

No dates were set as to when the hearings will take place.

The letter to the NFL comes a day after CBS' 60 Minutes Wednesday reported that Panthers punter Todd Sauerbrun and center Jeff Mitchell and former offensive lineman Todd Steussie filled testosterone cream prescriptions during the 2003 season, when the team went to the Super Bowl.

In addition to the cream, which is banned by the NFL, Sauerbrun also reportedly obtained syringes and the injectable steroid Stanozolol, which is banned by the league.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league responded immediately in a letter from Tagliabue that said he has directed his staff to be fully responsive to the committee's request.

The NFL has had random testing for steroids for the past 15 years. A total of 44 players have been suspended during that period for using the performance-enhancing substances.

The league has proposed toughening its testing standards to conform with a change in standards by the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee. That change has to be approved by the NFL Players Association, whose executive director, Gene Upshaw, is a former offensive lineman who has been outspoken about the use of the substances in the sport.

The committee asked the NFL to provide details on the testing procedures and how they were negotiated between the league and the union. It also requested summaries of all test results during the time the testing has taken place, although not the names of individual players. The committee set April 8 as the deadline for the league to provide it with the information.

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2005, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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