Baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth said yesterday he plans to move ahead with his attempt to eliminate drugs from the sport, even if the players' union rejects his appeal for voluntary drug testing. ``The commissioner is going to have to do many things next, and I'm not going to say what they are now,'' he said on NBC's ``Today'' show. ``I've got to stay with an attack on drugs, not players.
``Baseball has a responsibility. We're the national pastime. Millions of kids idolize ballplayers,'' Ueberroth said.
The players' union has called Ueberroth's proposed drug tests potentially illegal, inappropriate, and apparently designed only ``to make news.''
Ueberroth announced at a news conference Tuesday that he had sent a letter to all major-league players, through a designated representative on each team asking players if they would submit voluntarily to urinalysis.
The tests would be three times a year, beginning in 1986. Players were requested to respond to the letter by Friday.
``Anyone with a positive test would receive immediate and continued testing and treatment, counseling and help appropriate to that individual,'' with no penalties, Ueberroth said.
Alluding to the federal drug trial in Pittsburgh at which seven players testified, Ueberroth said that ``baseball has been on trial and has suffered public humiliation.'' He said a failure to institute testing would mean ``the start of a decade in which baseball is synonymous with drugs.''
Don Fehr, acting executive director of the Major League Players Association, called the commissioner's letter ``an attempt to bypass the union,'' and he said he was leaning toward recommending that players ignore Ueberroth's request.
The union has a Joint Drug Agreement with management which does not provide for testing. There is a provision, however, that allows for new discussion on tests if one side feels it is necessary.