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Sorry about steroids, Jason fails test for amphetamines





Wednesday, May 23rd 2007, 8:23 AM


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Jason Giambi failed an amphetamines test.


Jason Giambi failed an amphetamines test.


Jason Giambi failed a Major League Baseball-administered amphetamines test within the last year, which has subjected him to additional drug testing, sources told the Daily News. Giambi tacitly admitted last week that he has used steroids, but he failed to mention that he has been caught using other drugs.


Because Major League Baseball's amphetamines policy keeps a first positive test secret, however, it is unlikely Giambi will be asked about it when he meets with representatives from commissioner Bud Selig's office, possibly as soon as tomorrow on the Yankees' day off.


Giambi declined comment before last night's loss to the Red Sox, saying, "I can't really talk about anything."


Giambi's agent, Arn Tellem, said in an e-mail: "For the record, I'm not commenting."


But Giambi himself hinted at the failed test - which was later confirmed by the Daily News - in his eye-opening interview with USA Today last week, when he said that he is "probably tested more than anyone else."


Under MLB policy, there are two reasons a player would be required to submit to additional testing: The first is a failed steroid test, but failed steroid tests are made public. The second is a failed amphetamines test, which would not be made public.


An amphetamine is technically a specific kind of stimulant, but the term is used in anti-doping circles as a catch-all for any banned stimulants, including drugs that are illegal without a prescription, as well as some over-the-counter medications that are considered performance-enhancers.


The failed test is the latest in a series of embarrassing revelations for Giambi, who has had trouble keeping himself out of the news since he became a Yankee in 2001. In 2003 he was one of nine major league players to testify before a federal grand jury because of his connection to the BALCO steroid controversy.


In 2004 the Daily News reported that a mysterious ailment that had plagued Giambi was actually a tumor in his pituitary gland, and that he had not disclosed the information because his treatment included the use of corticosteroids, and he was worried about public backlash. (Corticosteroids, which break down tissue and reduce inflammation, are effectively the opposite of muscle-building anabolic steroids, but Giambi was worried that fans would not understand the difference.)


Later that year the San Francisco Chronicle reported portions of Giambi's testimony, prompting the Yankees to take a hard look at the struggling slugger's contract. At the time he was owed $82 million and had played only 80 games in the 2004 season. The Yankees considered voiding his contract under the belief that his steroid use had contributed to his inability to play. While attorneys believed the Yankees would have a tough time winning their case, several members of the front office, as well as some MLB officials, were willing to take their best shot.


Instead, the Yankees kept Giambi, and in February 2005 he apologized in a press conference, although he didn't say why he was apologizing. Teammates, led by captain Derek Jeter, made it clear during the 2005 season that he was still a welcome member of the team, in large part because of his apology.


Now, following Giambi's comments to USA Today, the team is again considering an effort to void his contract, although the Yankees are well aware of the significant legal hurdles they would have to overcome.


Because Giambi failed the test - one report estimated that more than 80 players might have last year - he is subject to six additional tests for one year from the time the positive is confirmed. The larger question is whether Yankee officials - who claimed not to have heard about the failed test - will try to use that information against Giambi as they consider terminating his contract.


Under baseball's amphetamines policy, which went into effect last season, a player who fails a test the first time is not punished, and the information is kept confidential, but he can be tested six additional times within the next year. After a second offense, the player is suspended for 25 games.


Giambi has never publicly failed a steroid test (results from anonymous "survey" testing in 2003 were never released), but when he testified before the federal BALCO grand jury in 2003, he admitted to extensive steroid use. That testimony was published a year later by the San Francisco Chronicle.


Last week he made his apology more explicit, telling USA Today: "I was wrong for doing that stuff. What we should have done a long time ago was stand up - players, ownership, everybody - and said: 'We made a mistake.' We should have apologized back then and made sure we had a rule in place and gone forward. ... Steroids and all of that was a part of history. But it was a topic that everybody wanted to avoid. Nobody wanted to talk about it."


It is entirely possible the Yankees were unaware of the recent test, as they claimed. Under baseball's policy, when a player tests positive for banned stimulants, only the four members of MLB's Health Policy Advisory Committee (HPAC) and the player himself are informed. The player may then tell whomever he likes. Under the rule, even commissioner Bud Selig and MLB Players Association executive director Don Fehr are not informed.


While players have said anecdotally that they believe amphetamine use is down, some have said players knew they had a "mulligan," knowing they could fail one test and receive no punishment.


The Daily News reported in January that Barry Bonds had failed an amphetamines test last season, and the San Diego Union-Tribune reported this month that figures from the World Anti-Doping Agency suggested that 80 or more players may have failed tests.


In previous years, WADA figures showed, the Montreal anti-doping lab that analyzes urine samples for MLB and other organizations reported an average of 20 positive tests for stimulants a year. Last year, with MLB testing for stimulants for the first time, the number swelled to 104.

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