By James Crook

173509697July 17- Baseball and softball are still hopeful of striking a deal to release Major League Baseball (MLB) players for the Olympics should the sports gain a place on the programme, despite MLB commissioner Bud Selig ruling out the possibility of a season break. 

Selig has been a supporter of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC)'s campaign to get the sport back on to the Olympic programme, but he has claimed there is no way around the fact that the Games would interrupt the regular season, despite his wishes to see the sport back in the Olympics.

"It just isn't possible," he told the Baseball Writers Association of America.

"I wish it was."

The MLB features many of the top players in the world, and the ongoing doubt over whether leading players from the league would feature in the Games has been a constant thorn in the side of the WBSC and their Play Ball 2020 campaign.

But despite confirming that MLB players will not compete at the Games should baseball and softball regain a place on the programme, which both sports lost in 2005, Selig did confirm the MLB has extended its backing of the bid to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ahead of its decision in September.

82520584Baseball and softball were last competed as Olympic sports at Beijing 2008

"I love the idea of baseball in the Olympics, I love the internationalisation," continued Selig.

"We've told them [IOC] that directly."

The MLB season traditionally runs from late March to late September, presenting a clash with the Summer Olympics, which typically take place in July-August.

Other sports allow top players from the domestic premier league, such as the National Basketball Association (NBA), to compete in the Games as their season runs through the winter months.

Meanwhile, ice hockey has found itself in a similar situation to the MLB where there has been doubt over the availability of top players from the National Hockey League (NHL) for Sochi 2014 as it clashes with the season, although the NHL is believed to be nearing an agreement which will include a mid-season break for players to compete at the Winter Olympics.

However, Selig does not see a similar season break arrangement as a possibility for the MLB.

"People would think you're crazy," he said.

"You can't do that.

"First of all, we'd be playing to Thanksgiving, maybe December 1, and secondly, some teams would have to give up players [while] other teams would sit around for three and a half weeks."

The WBSC has since responded to Selig's comments in a statement, claiming there could yet be a resolution that could see the world's top players competing in the Olympics if they win the final spot on the Games programme. 

"We have the full and unwavering support of the MLB and all the pro leagues around the world," it said. 

"They are fully behind our campaign to include baseball and softball in the Olympic Programme – and they are supporting us in numerous substantial ways.

"With the WBSC's innovative new format for Olympic Baseball – a six day tournament with eight international teams – there is no need to shut down the MLB season for professional participation.

"We will work together with all the professional leagues to find creative scheduling solutions to avoid any conflict with the Olympic championship games, but we have seven years to find the right formula.

"Commissioner Selig is on record in support of baseball and softball in the Olympic Games and we fully support his commitment to MLB's loyal fans.

"As the globalisation trends of baseball and softball continue to accelerate, we are convinced that baseball and softball together will add enormous appeal and value to the 2020 Olympic Games and beyond.

"The WBSC leadership is fully committed to continue engaging the professional baseball leagues and working with the IOC to find realistic and attractive solutions for the professional players to be available for their national teams, and we are very satisfied with the progress we have been able to achieve thus far and are fully confident that we will continue to take steps forward."

Selig also spoke of the ongoing Biogenesis doping scandal in the MLB, which has implicated a number of players in the league including top names such as New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez and Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun, although they have denied any wrongdoing.

148959024Alex Rodriguez is one of the players implicated in the Biogenesis doping scandal

"We have to complete this investigation," Selig said.

"I have to see the results and then we move forward.

"When they're done with the investigation that will be time, regardless of what time of the season it is.

"We have to do what we have to do."

The now defunct Biogenesis anti-aging clinic in Miami has been accused of supplying performance enhancing drugs to twenty MLB players, and despite the MLB taking legal action against six people connected to the clinic in March this year, a resolution is yet to be found.

Players Association director Michael Weiner has revealed that any players found guilty in the Biogenesis investigation will not fall under the collective bargaining agreement, which commands an automatic 50 game ban for a first offence, rising to 100 games for a second and a lifetime ban for a third.

"Players in Biogenesis aren't bound by the penalties in the basic agreement," he explained.

"The penalties in the basic agreement are for what we call analytical positives, or drug tests.

"The players in Biogenesis are what we call non-analytical positives, positives based on something other than tests.

"They can be suspended for five games or 500 games, that's the theory."

Doping has plagued the MLB for decades, and is considered as a key factor in the sport losing its place on the Olympic programme in 2005.

"Problems with doping in US baseball probably cost the sport dearly," said Australian Olympic Committee President and IOC member John Coates following the decision to drop the sport from the programme.

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