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Bush concerned about steroids’ reach

The Associated Press
| Saturday, December 15, 2007 12:00 a.m

WASHINGTON — President Bush said Friday that baseball players and owners must take seriously the Mitchell Report on steroid use, but he cautioned against jumping to conclusions about the individuals named.

“My hope is that this report is a part of putting the steroid era of baseball behind us,” he said, surrounded by Cabinet members in the Rose Garden.

Bush, who once owned the Texas Rangers, said, the Mitchell Report means that “we can jump to this conclusion: that steroids have sullied the game.”

“The players and the owners must take the Mitchell Report seriously,” Bush said. “I’m confident they will.”

In a report issued Thursday, former Sen. George Mitchell linked 85 players to the illegal use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.

Lawyers in baseball commissioner Bud Selig’s office will have to determine whether any of the active players deserve punishment, a process that will spill into next year.

“I think it’s best that all of us not jump to any conclusions on individual players named,” Bush said.

As an intense fan of baseball, Bush seemed pained by the extent of the problem. He spoke about the issue in answer to a question from a reporter.

“I understand the impact that professional athletes can have on our nation’s youth,” he said. “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 youth.”

Bush, who was the managing partner of the Texas Rangers before leaving that job to run for governor in 1994, had called for a voluntary crackdown on steroids in his 2004 State of the Union address.

This August, Bush called to congratulate Barry Bonds when he broke the home run record. The president didn’t weigh in on the steroids controversy surrounding the slugger’s smashing of the vaunted major league record.

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