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Thursday, December 13, 2007

George Mitchell's Drug Report in Baseball

George Mitchell's 20-month report into steroid use in professional baseball blamed both players and management for the problem.

Mitchell addressed the media and released his report on Thursday. Among Mitchell's conclusions he gave in what he termed a "detailed statement":

• Mitchell said: "For more than a decade there has been widespread anabolic steroid use" in baseball.

• Mitchell and his staff interviewed former New York Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski four times. Radomski identified a number of former and current MLB players he said he sold steroid and HGH to. Checks and money orders, mailing receipts or shipments, statements of other witnesses were used to back up Radomski's allegations. Much of this was found in Radomski's seized telephone records.

• Brian McNamee, a former New York Yankees trainer who worked with Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, was interviewed three times by Mitchell, with a personal lawyer and federal law enforcement officials in the room.

• Several former MLB players and strength and conditioning coaches were also interviewed.

• Each player named was invited to meet with Mitchell if their name came up in his investigation. Mitchell said almost all current players refused to meet with him.

• Response to the problem from both baseball and its players slow to develop and was initially ineffective.

• There is evidence the problem wasn't isolated to one club. Many players were involved. Each club has had a player involved.

• Mitchell's investigation found that some players had a head-up to drug tests.

• Recommendations focused on three areas. The first was investigations without a failed drug test. Mitchell recommended a department of investigations, appointed by the commissioner. Secondly, he recommended improved educational programs. And third, Mitchell recommended that drug testing remains an important element to combat illegal drug use, but asks that it be an independent testing authority.

•In his report, Mitchell wrote he was against Selig disciplining players named in the report, or not, for past violations of baseball's rules against using performance-enhancing substances "except in those cases where he determines that the conduct is so serious that discipline is necessary to maintain the integrity of the game. I make this recommendation fully aware that there are valid arguments both for and against it."

• Mitchell's conclusions:

    There has been a great deal of speculation about this report. Much of it has focused on players' names: how many and which ones. After considering that issue very carefully I concluded that it is appropriate and necessary to include them in this report. Otherwise I would not have done what I was asked to do: to try to find out what happened and to report what I learned accurately, fairly, and thoroughly. While the interest in names is understandable, I hope the media and the public will keep that part of the report in context and will look beyond the individuals to the central conclusions and recommendations of this report. In closing, I want to emphasize them:

    • 1. The use of steroids in Major League Baseball was widespread. The response by baseball was slow to develop and was initially ineffective. For many years, citing concerns for the privacy rights of the players, the Players Association opposed mandatory random drug testing of its members for steroids and other substances. But in 2002, the effort gained momentum after the clubs and the Players Association agreed to and adopted a mandatory random drug testing program. The current program has been effective in that detectable steroid use appears to have declined. However, that does not mean that players have stopped using performance enhancing substances. Many players have shifted to human growth hormone, which is not detectable in any currently available urine test.

    • 2. The minority of players who used such substances were wrong. They violated federal law and baseball policy, and they distorted the fairness of competition by trying to gain an unfair advantage over the majority of players who followed the law and the rules. They  the players who follow the law and the rules  are faced with the painful choice of either being placed at a competitive disadvantage or becoming illegal users themselves. No one should have to make that choice.

    • 3. Obviously, the players who illegally used performance enhancing substances are responsible for their actions. But they did not act in a vacuum. Everyone involved in baseball over the past two decades  Commissioners, club officials, the Players Association, and players  shares to some extent in the responsibility for the steroids era. There was a collective failure to recognize the problem as it emerged and to deal with it early on. As a result, an environment developed in which illegal use became widespread.

    • 4. Knowledge and understanding of the past are essential if the problem is to be dealt with effectively in the future. But being chained to the past is not helpful. Baseball does not need and cannot afford to engage in a never-ending search for the name of every player who ever used performance enhancing substances. The Commissioner was right to ask for this investigation and report. It would have been impossible to get closure on this issue without it, or something like it.

    • 5. But it is now time to look to the future, to get on with the important and difficult task that lies ahead. Everyone involved in Major League Baseball should join in a wellplanned, well-executed, and sustained effort to bring the era of steroids and human growth hormone to an end and to prevent its recurrence in some other form in the future. That is the only way this cloud will be removed from the game. The adoption of the recommendations set forth in this report will be a first step in that direction.

Also:

• On page 121 of the report, under a heading "players requested to be interviewed," Jason Giambi is the only player in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative probe who participated in Mitchell's investigation. This portion of the report read:

"Concerning BALCO and Major League Baseball I requested interviews of all the major league players who had been publicly implicated in the BALCO case: Marvin Benard; Barry Bonds; Bobby Estalella; Jason Giambi; Jeremy Giambi; Armando Rios; Benito Santiago; Gary Sheffield; and Randy Velarde. Jason Giambi agreed to be interviewed, and Randy Velarde provided information through his attorney. All the other players implicated in the BALCO case refused my requests to be interviewed or did not respond to them. Gary Sheffield initially declined my request for an interview. Sheffield later said that he would agree to an interview, subject to the availability of his lawyer who was undergoing medical treatments."

Clemens, Miguel Tejada and Pettitte were named in the report, an All-Star roster linked to steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs that put a question mark -- if not an asterisk -- next to some of baseball's biggest moments.

On page 169 of the report, Clemens being injected with an anabolic steroid is detailed.

"After we read the report, we will have something to say," said Randy Hendricks, the agent for Clemens and Pettitte.

Mitchell released his report at a news conference in New York City. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig will hold his own news conference at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Barry Bonds, already under indictment on charges of lying to a federal grand jury about steroids, also showed up in baseball's most infamous lineup since the Black Sox scandal.

It was uncertain whether the report would result in any penalties or suspensions.

Several stars named in the report could pay the price in Cooperstown, much the way Mark McGwire was kept out of the Hall of Fame this year merely because of steroids suspicion.

"Former commissioner Fay Vincent told me that the problem of performance-enhancing substances may be the most serious challenge that baseball has faced since the 1919 Black Sox scandal,'' Mitchell said in the 409-page report.

"The illegal use of anabolic steroids and similar substances, in Vincent's view, is 'cheating of the worst sort.' He believes that it is imperative for Major League Baseball to 'capture the moral high ground' on the issue and, by words and deeds, make it clear that baseball will not tolerate the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs."

Eric Gagne and Paul Lo Duca were among other current players named in the report, both linked to Human Growth Hormone.

"We identify some of the players who were caught up in this drive to gain a competitive advantage,'' the report said. "Other investigations will no doubt turn up more names and fill in more details, but that is unlikely to significantly alter the description of baseball's 'steroids era' as set forth in this report."

1 comment:

kactuspete said...

George its history and you cant chane whats been done so lets move forward and you go ahead and retire and shhhh.