Congress Monitors Baseball Steroid Probe

The Associated Press
Wednesday, January 31, 2007; 4:24 PM

WASHINGTON -- Congress is monitoring George Mitchell's investigation of steroids in baseball and could intervene if he doesn't get more cooperation, two lawmakers told the former Senate Majority Leader.

The leaders of a House subcommittee that held hearings on steroids in 2005 pledged their support for Mitchell in a letter sent to him Tuesday and released to the media Wednesday.

"We sincerely hope that all relevant parties will work constructively to facilitate the completion of your investigation and your ongoing efforts to clean up the sport," wrote House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection chairman Bobby Rush, a Democrat from Illinois, and ranking Republican Cliff Stearns of Florida.

Stearns proposed the Drug Free Sports Act in April 2005. That bill called for a two-year suspension for a first offense and a lifetime ban for a second, while leagues that failed to comply would have been fined at least $5 million.

It was one of several pieces of legislation about steroids in pro sports that lawmakers stopped pushing after baseball introduced wider-ranging and more stringent drug rules in November 2005.

"Hopefully, similar legislative initiatives will remain unnecessary," Rush and Stearns wrote.

Mitchell told baseball's owners on Jan. 18 that he intends to interview active players and raised the possibility that Congress could compel testimony _ something he can't do. Mitchell was hired by commissioner Bud Selig last March after more than a year of allegations against Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and other stars.

"We appreciate your warning to team owners and concur with your recommendation for better cooperation with your independent investigation," the congressmen wrote.

© 2007 The Associated Press