Thursday, December 13, 2007
Highlights of the Mitchell Report, released Thursday: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 well planned, 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."Recommendations