Bush: Use of Steroids Has 'Sullied' Baseball

By Michael Abramowitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 15, 2007

President Bush said yesterday that steroids have "sullied" baseball but cautioned fans not to jump to conclusions about individual players identified as abusers in the report this week from a commission headed by former Senate majority leader George J. Mitchell.

Speaking for the first time about the new report, Bush said he was troubled by the allegations of steroid use and urged owners and players to take the report seriously.

"My hope is that this report is a part of putting the steroid era of baseball behind us," Bush told reporters in the Rose Garden. "I understand the impact that professional athletes can have on our nation's youth. And I just urge . . . those in the public spotlight, particularly athletes, to understand that when they violate their bodies, they're sending a terrible signal to America's young."

As a former owner of the Texas Rangers and a big baseball fan, Bush has appeared especially troubled by the report, which identified 91 current and former players, including some of the biggest names in the sport, as possible steroid abusers.

His aides have been peppered with questions from reporters, especially in light of comments from former slugger Jose Canseco that Bush must have known of such abuse. White House press secretary Dana Perino said this week that Bush did not recall being aware of any steroid abuse when he was with the Rangers.

Yesterday, another Bush spokesman, Scott Stanzel, said the president was "fully aware of what's in the report" and has closely followed news reports -- but had not actually read the 400-plus document itself. "He watches baseball quite a bit, so this is an issue that's of interest to him," he said.

Stanzel indicated Bush believes professional sports leagues ought to police themselves on the steroid issue.

"The president believes it's best . . . for the leagues to take up these issues," he said. "Obviously, we have laws on the books about various drugs and that sort of thing, the abuse of them. However, it's probably best that these leagues take this challenge on themselves, and the president believes it's a very important issue."

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