Politicians Weigh In on Mitchell's Findings

By Thomas Heath
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 14, 2007

There was swift political reaction yesterday to the report issued by former Senate majority leader George J. Mitchell's commission that documents rampant performance-enhancing drug use among Major League Baseball players.

Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), two lawmakers at the forefront of the drug issue, asked Mitchell, Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig and players' union chief Donald Fehr to appear at a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee next Tuesday.

At a news conference in New York, Selig said he has a scheduling conflict and the date is being reconsidered.

"This is a sad day for Major League Baseball but a good day for integrity in sports," Waxman and Davis said in a joint statement. "It's an important step towards the goal of eliminating the use of performance enhancing substances."

The statement called the Mitchell report "sobering" and said the committee will seek advice at the hearing on whether additional measures are needed.

"It shows the use of steroids and human growth hormone has been and is a significant problem in Major League Baseball," Waxman and Davis said. "And it shows that everyone involved in Major League Baseball bears some responsibility for this scandal."

Waxman is the committee's chairman and Davis is the ranking Republican. The committee held a dramatic hearing in March 2005, at which then-players Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa, and former player Mark McGwire testified.

White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said President Bush, who was a co-owner and managing general partner of the Texas Rangers from 1989 to 1994, "looks forward to seeing the report by Senator Mitchell. He has not seen it yet, and the president hopes that this report marks the beginning of the end of steroid abuse."

"This report is an acknowledgment that they have a problem and that they're trying to resolve it," Perino said.

Perino pointed to an interview by President Bush with ESPN earlier this year in which he did not recall steroids being used or being discussed at the time he was co-owner of the Rangers.

"The president said he thought long and hard about it, he just does not recall ever hearing it or seeing it," Perino said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who rooted for San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds during his pursuit of his record-breaking 756th home run this past season, told reporters that the indications were that the use of steroids was "far more pervasive" than anyone had previously acknowledged and that steroid use in youth athletics is "an issue that must be addressed."

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