Rep. Cummings asks Roberts to join awareness effort

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings wants Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts to turn a negative into a positive.

Cummings, a Baltimore congressman representing Maryland's 7th District, has written a letter asking Roberts to join Powered by ME!, a campaign based in the Baltimore area that instructs youth about the dangers of illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

Roberts, a two-time All-Star, admitted this week to using steroids once in 2003, and has publicly asked forgiveness.

Cummings wants him to take the next step and become an anti-steroids advocate.

"I think this is a win-win situation. It's like giving him a home run pitch," Cummings said. "He will really be able to show how he feels about what happened, he'll be able to help kids, and he would be able to gain respect back. I think what he did [with steroids] would be overshadowed by him coming forward and lifting up kids."

Cummings, who is co-founder and chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Drug Policy, has been involved in the development of the Powered by ME! program with St. Joseph Medical Center and other volunteer partners.

The focus has been on educating middle school and high school students and their parents and coaches. Cummings said testimony from a player such as Roberts could have a lasting effect on a young audience.

"I think Roberts has the power through his misfortune to become a true role model," Cummings said. "Not only because he'll be able to prevent young people from using these substances, but because they will see a truly standup guy."

Cummings' office faxed the letter of invitation to Roberts, in care of the Orioles, yesterday. He said he hopes to hear from the second baseman within a week.

Roberts and his agent could not be reached to comment.

In his Orioles career, Roberts has gained the reputation of being an involved community member, visiting hospitals and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for sick and underprivileged children.

"I do expect him to do it. I really do," Cummings said. "I wouldn't have written it if I didn't think he is sincere. Believe me, I am trying to bring life out of this situation."