Lawmakers Seek Probe Into Tejada Statements
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Two high-ranking members of Congress recommended yesterday that the Department of Justice investigate whether former Baltimore Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada lied to a House committee in 2005 about using steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.
Tejada's denials of drug use during previously undisclosed testimony "appear to conflict with evidence obtained" by former Senate majority leader George J. Mitchell in his recent investigation into steroid use in baseball, Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) said in a letter delivered yesterday to Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey.
The letter was publicly released yesterday morning during a hearing on steroids in Major League Baseball in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
"We do not presume that Mr. Tejada lied to the Committee," Waxman, the committee chairman, and Davis wrote. "But we do believe that this is a serious enough issue to warrant further examination by the Justice Department."
The Orioles traded Tejada, 31, to the Houston Astros a day before Mitchell's report was released Dec. 13. He won baseball's most valuable player award in 2002 while with the Oakland Athletics.
Tejada's attorney Mark Tuohey declined to comment yesterday, saying he had not had the opportunity to see the letter.
Mukasey received the letter and planned to review and eventually respond to it, according to Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr. The consequences could be severe if Tejada were found to have made false statements to the congressional panel. Federal law calls for a maximum of five years in prison.
Track star Marion Jones was sentenced Friday to six months in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of making false statements to federal investigators about her steroid use and knowledge of a fraudulent check scheme. Baseball slugger Barry Bonds has been charged with five counts of perjury and obstruction of justice and faces a maximum of 30 years in prison.
"We are especially concerned with the veracity of Mr. Tejada's statements because they materially influenced the course of the Committee's investigation in 2005," Waxman and Davis said in the letter.
Tejada told members of the committee during an Aug. 26, 2005, interview at a Baltimore hotel he had not taken steroids, steroid precursors or any illegal performance-enhancing substances and didn't know whether any other MLB players used drugs, according to the letter.
But in Mitchell's report, which was released in December, Mitchell reproduced copies of two 2003 checks for $3,100 and $3,200 from Tejada to former major league player Adam Piatt, who told Mitchell and his investigative team he sold Tejada testosterone or the steroid Deca-Durabolin and human growth hormone. Mitchell's report also stated that Kirk J. Radomski, a former New York Mets clubhouse attendant, said independently that Piatt told him he wanted to obtain testosterone for Tejada.
Oversight committee members had interviewed Tejada in connection with their investigation into whether former Oriole Rafael Palmeiro was truthful when he denied using steroids before the committee in March 2005, the letter stated. Two months after that appearance, Palmeiro tested positive for steroids and speculated it could have resulted from an injection of vitamin B-12 that he received from Tejada.
Waxman said at the opening of yesterday's hearing that Tejada's testimony had not previously been made public out of respect for his privacy.
"The Mitchell report directly contradicts key elements of Mr. Tejada's testimony," Waxman said. "The conflict is stark and fundamental to the Committee's 2005 investigation."
Orioles owner Peter Angelos, who attended the hearing, said during a break that he did not even realize Tejada had testified to congressional investigators.
"Not knowing any of the facts or circumstances, I'm not going to have any comment," Angelos said.