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Ephedra Use Banned In Minors

Feb 28, 2003 | UPI

Major League Baseball has implemented a policy banning minor league players from using the herbal stimulant ephedra.

The ban was initially reported Thursday by the Baltimore Sun.

Baseball spokesman Rich Levin said the ban was implemented Monday. It has been transmitted to the front offices of all 30 major league teams over the past two days.

"It's part of our new policy," Levin said.

"It's great news," Orioles Vice President of Baseball Operations Mike Flanagan told the paper.

However, the ban covers players in the minor leagues and those not on 40-man rosters. It makes no provisions for players on 40-man rosters governed by the collective bargaining agreement reached last August.

The agreement does not ban major league players from using the supplement, which often is used to help speed weight loss.

Minor leaguers have no union and have been tested for drugs by baseball for several years.

Ephedra has been mentioned as a contributing factor in the death of Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler, a husky, 240-pound player, who collapsed after suffering heatstroke on Feb. 16 during a spring training workout in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and died the following day.

The substance has been linked to heart attacks, strokes, and seizures.

Available without a prescription, ephedra is banned by the NFL, NCAA, and the International Olympic Committee. However, the Players Association has voiced its opposition to any ban.

The union said it will wait for the toxicology reports from Bechler's autopsy before re-examining its stance on ephedra.

Bechler's widow said this week that she plans to sue the manufacturer of the dietary supplement Xenadrine RFA-1, which contains ephedra. Bechler was believed to be taking the supplement before his death.

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