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Selig — It’s time to move the game forward

By Bob Dutton

McClatchy Newspapers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Any worries regarding that looming 15-day suspension ended Friday for Royals outfielder Jose Guillen — although he insisted he was never really worried about it, anyway.

"I’m one of those guys that whatever happens, happens," he said. "I try not to put any negativity in my life. It (didn’t) bother me at all. It’s all fine with me.

"It’s time for me to look forward and try to be the Jose Guillen who a lot of people want me to be. I want to start helping this team win some games."

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Concerned or not, Guillen learned his suspension had been rescinded by commissioner Bud Selig as a concession to union officials for agreeing to a fortified drug-testing program.

Guillen was suspended Dec. 6 for unspecified violations in the previous policy. His ban was scheduled to take effect at the start of the season, but enforcement was delayed twice while the industry negotiated a tougher new program.

"We’re very pleased that’s solidified and finished and over and closed," manager Trey Hillman said. "Hopefully, we can just go out there and all of us, him included, not worry about that any more. It certainly makes our lives easier."

Players granted amnesty

Selig granted amnesty to all 86 players, including Guillen, cited in the Mitchell Report, an extensive study headed by former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell that examined the use of performance-enhancing drugs within the sport.

"It is time to move the game forward," Selig said. "There is little to be gained at this point in debating dated misconduct and enduring numerous disciplinary proceedings."

The union agreed that players, including those cited in the report, will participate in community-service activities designed to educate youth and their parents to the dangers of performance-enhancing substances.

"What we have done," union executive director Donald Fehr said, "is take a program which we believe is the best in professional sports and made it even stronger."

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The union also will make a $200,000 contribution to an anti-drug charitable or research organization.

The new policy includes six major aspects:

Increased independence. An independent program administrator (IPA) will be appointed for a multiyear term and can be removed only for narrow and specific reasons.

Increased transparency. The IPA will annually and publicly report key statistics related to the program, and record-retention requirements will be lengthened.

Testing. There will be 600 additional tests conducted each year. The number of offseason tests, on average, will double.

Flexibility. The agreement institutionalizes an annual review process to allow parties to respond to new developments.

Education. The IPA, in consultation with the parties, will develop an annual mandatory education program for players.

Amateur draft. The testing program will now include top prospects.

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Guillen: ‘It’s over with’

The Royals knew Guillen, 31, might be subject to suspension when they signed him in December to a three-year contract for $36 million. He entered Friday’s game against the Minnesota Twins with just six hits in 37 at-bats.

"This is not the guy you guys are going to see all year," Guillen said. "I will come around and be the player everybody wants me to be. That’s all I can tell you guys.

"A lot of players start slow in (cold) weather. Just be patient a little bit. I will come around."

Selig retained the right to discipline any player covered by the amnesty if they are subsequently linked to the sale or distribution of banned substances or for criminal convictions unrelated to the use of drugs.

"A criminal conviction for perjury, obstruction of justice or similar matters is a serious offense," Selig said, "and will be dealt with accordingly."

Guillen declined to address charges published last year in the San Francisco Chronicle that he bought $19,000 in steroids and human growth hormone during 2002-2005. He had previously promised to answer the allegations once his suspension was resolved.

"It’s over with," he said. "I’m not getting suspended. Let’s put this behind (us) now. Let’s move forward. What we need to do now is just play baseball. I need to start contributing to help this team win. That’s what is in my mind."

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