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Bechler's Parents: Ephedra Ban Will Save Lives

Dec 30, 2003 | AP

Steve Bechler's parents welcomed the federal government's ban on ephedra, saying it should save lives and ensure their son did not die in vain.

The Baltimore Orioles pitcher's heatstroke in February was linked to the herbal weight-loss supplement, which also has been blamed for more than 150 other deaths.

"In one aspect, I feel that it's not enough, because it won't bring Steve back," Bechler's mother, Pat, said in a telephone interview from Medford, Ore.

"But it will help and protect other people."

While the NFL, NCAA and International Olympic Committee already banned ephedra, major league baseball did not.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig and Gene Orza, associate general counsel of the Major League Baseball Players Association, did not immediately return phone calls Tuesday.

Mike Flanagan, the Orioles' vice president for baseball operations, said Tuesday's announcement "is one the Orioles' organization has pushed for" since Bechler's death.

"The Orioles sincerely hope that people heed this message, and that the government continues to take any and all steps to stop the manufacture and sale of products with ephedra," Flanagan said.

Steve Bechler, 23, died during spring training in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The medical examiner said ephedra contributed to heatstroke.

In July, Bechler's parents testified before Congress in support of a ban. His father, Ernie, said Tuesday that one of the last things he told lawmakers was: "Please don't let my son die in vain."

A dietary supplement firm being sued over Bechler's death has said it believes the Baltimore Orioles are liable and wants the team to pay any damages stemming from a lawsuit filed by the player's widow.

Nutraquest Inc. of Wall Township, N.J., formerly known as Cytodyne Technologies Inc., claimed in U.S. District Court in Miami that the tragedy "could have been avoided" if the team had acted properly.

Richard H. Catalina Jr., an attorney for the company, declined to comment specifically on the Bush administration's ephedra ban.

"It has been our position all along that the product Xenadrine RFA was safe if taken as directed by healthy individuals," Catalina said.

Steve Bechler's widow, Kiley, has filed a $600 million wrongful death lawsuit against the company.

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