Report To Detail Drug Use In Baseball
Thursday, December 13, 2007
A long-awaited report on steroid and performance-enhancing drug use in Major League Baseball, which is to be released today, will lay blame at all levels of the sport for a widespread drug problem and call for drastic changes in the league's drug-testing program, according to sources briefed on the investigation. At least 60 current and former players, including past winners of the league's Cy Young and Most Valuable Player awards, are expected to be implicated in the 300-page document.
George J. Mitchell, the former Senate majority leader who has led the probe since his appointment by Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig in March 2006, is expected to call for MLB to outsource its drug-testing program to a state-of-the-art independent agency, immediately create an investigative arm to pursue allegations or evidence of performance-enhancing drug use among players, and add an education component to the program, several sources said.
The report will show that the performance-enhancing drug use is more rampant among pitchers than position players, but Mitchell will try to play down the names mentioned in an attempt to steer attention to the enormity of baseball's drug problem and the need for changes, one of the sources said.
The sources, who had been briefed on the contents of the report but had not seen it, declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the information. The sources declined to discuss names listed in the report.
"It will be an analysis, top-to-bottom, of everyone involved," one source said. "They are not going to pull any punches with anybody. They are going to say what they found, from Selig on down, from union officials on down."
Said another source: "They've identified the low-hanging fruit. The odds are that many more are doing things."
Even if upward of 60 names are mentioned in the report, it is possible that few will be new ones. More than 50 players already have been implicated as alleged performance-enhancing drug users in media reports, investigations and through admissions and failed drug tests. Some retired players have claimed that at the height of the problem from the late 1990s through 2003, when testing was instituted, half or more of baseball's 1,200 players were drug users.
Though many MLB officials have hoped the release of Mitchell's report would bring closure to what has been widely termed baseball's "Steroids Era," that seems unlikely given the number and magnitude of the players involved, the possibility of embarrassing specifics contained in some attachments and exhibits, and the recommended overhaul of a drug-testing program that has faced criticism from Congress and which owners and players have wrangled over for years in collective bargaining.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) said yesterday he would recommend that Selig be summoned to testify in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform if the report brings new and damning information to light. Selig and a number of players appeared before the panel in 2005.
"What we will find in this report is that a lot more people are involved in the illegal use of performance-enhancing drugs than we ever imagined," Cummings, a senior member of the committee, said in a telephone interview. "I think baseball has developed a culture of cheating. . . . This may put Major League Baseball on the critical list. If it is on the critical list, we need critical solutions."
Selig appointed Mitchell soon after the release of a book that detailed the alleged use of steroids and human growth hormone by San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds, who was indicted in November on charges of lying to federal investigators over the alleged drug use. Selig said he told Mitchell to "follow the evidence wherever it might lead" but limited the probe to events since September 2002, when the league and players union agreed to ban performance-enhancing drugs. A survey testing program was instituted the following year.
"I don't want anyone to say there was something to hide, and we hid it," Selig said this week. "No one can say it was a whitewash."