Glavine pitched for testing

BOB ELLIOTT -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:03 AM ET

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- History shows Tom Glavine arrived in New York on Aug. 29, 2002, on a plane.

He could have galloped into Gotham riding a white horse.

Earlier in the day, Glavine pitched, took the decision in a 4-1 Atlanta loss to Pittsburgh, then hopped on a plane for New York.

The next afternoon, three hours before games would be cancelled, management and the players' association agreed to a labour deal, the first without a work stoppage.

Many items were on the table when Glavine arrived: Penalizing big spenders, revenue sharing, contraction and random testing for steroids.

Glavine has been credited by both sides for getting steroid testing included in the new deal.

Now, we're six years down the road, free of labour strife, but we have steroid suspensions, one Mitchell Report, apologies and convoluted explanations.

"I can't take credit for getting testing in the deal, B.J. Surhoff and a lot of other players were there, we knew we had to do something," said Glavine, now back with Atlanta after five years with the New York Mets.

"The problem when we began discussing testing a year before was that the topic was so broad. Management wanted the Olympic testing which means you can't take a Sudafed or a cold pill.

"That wouldn't work over a 162-game season."

The plan that the sides agreed upon was random testing without suspension for the first year. If more than 5% of major leaguers tested positive, a plan with suspensions would be invoked.

In 2004, 7-8% of major leaguers tested positive and the next year, Alex Sanchez of Tampa Bay was the first player suspended.

"In hindsight, maybe we should have gone to a plan quicker," Glavine said. "I don't think any of us knew how serious the issue was."

Glavine said he didn't believe Jose Canseco's claim of 80% usage when the former Oakland A's slugger made it but conceded "it was probably higher" than 5-7% who tested positive."

The Mitchell Report surprised Glavine, but not because it named only 1.67% of the players.

"Backup infielders were in there, so many pitchers were named," he said. "It wasn't just power hitters. Every position was covered. Anyone who justified taking performance-enhancing drugs to themselves took them."

Glavine watched the congressional hearings featuring Roger Clemens and former Jays strength coach Brian McNamee battling for 41/2 hours.

"I come down on the side that people are innocent until proven guilty," Glavine said. "But Andy Pettitte's testimony was strong in support of McNamee."

Glavine didn't agree with Hank Steinbrenner who said baseball is picked on for steroid use and the Yankees senior VP claimed football has twice the problem.

"We have been hammered more than any other sport," Glavine said. "I read 'Why isn't baseball testing for HGH?' I don't think that there is a test for it."

Glavine said baseball's testing program is the toughest in pro sports.

"And we can continue to improve it, but as good as our program is, it is difficult to eradicate the problem," he said. "I don't know how we'll ever get 100% clean."

The problem is that drug cheating remains ahead of drug testing.

Seated at his locker, Glavine has John Smoltz's stall to his right and Chipper Jones' to his left. Next to Jones is an empty locker.

"Is that reserved for Greg Maddux?" he's asked.

"He's pretty happy on the left coast," Glavine said of the San Diego Padres righty.

Glavine has a date with Cooperstown. His 303 (and counting) wins assure that.

His leadership which led to finally including drug testing in a labour agreement should not be overlooked.


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