Documents delivered to the House Government Reform Committee pertaining to Rafael Palmeiro's positive drug test have neither proven nor refuted that the Baltimore Orioles first baseman committed perjury during his testimony in March, according to a source with knowledge of the contents.
The paperwork relating to Palmeiro's drug test and subsequent appeal was delivered by Major League Baseball representatives on Aug. 12 to the committee, which is investigating whether Palmeiro lied when he testified in March that he had never used steroids.
"I don't think the material received provides for a quick vindication," the source said.
Chairman Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) and ranking minority member Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) have declined to comment until the committee finishes its investigation.
Palmeiro, who on July 15 became one of four players in major league history with 3,000 hits and more than 500 home runs, tested positive for a steroid in May and was suspended for 10 days on Aug. 1 after losing an appeal.
Palmeiro, 40, has maintained that he did not knowingly take the drug, which reportedly was stanozolol, a potent steroid. Experts say it is unlikely that stanozolol could have entered his system accidentally.
Palmeiro has said he would offer an explanation, and his agent, Arn Tellem, promised that "there is another side to this story, and Raffy will tell it soon." However, according to the source, that explanation is not found in the paperwork. The Baltimore Sun reported yesterday that Palmeiro did not explain his positive test result to baseball's arbitration panel during his hearing, and instead only read a statement.
"We're certainly curious about that, too," the source said.
Tellem did not respond to a request for comment.
The House committee has had a week to review the documents, and no conclusion to its investigation appears imminent. Its work has been slowed by Congress's August recess.
"Part of the complication right now also is that not everyone is at the same place where you can make a quick decision," the source said.
Though no specifics of the investigation or any of the material the committee received has been revealed, the source said: "If and when there is a chance and a time for people to look at the transcripts, there will be things that will be interesting. The material we've received raises a fair amount of questions."
The committee, according to several sources, also has not determined whether it will release any documents to the public. Neither MLB nor the players' union would be involved in that decision; they would only be informed if the documents were made public.
"It's not a classified document," the source said. "We're not dealing with issues of national security. Releasing it to the public wouldn't interfere with what we're doing."
Neither players' union spokesman Greg Bouris nor general counsel Michael Weiner returned phone calls seeking comment, but an MLB spokesman said yesterday that the league would not release any information about the case.
"That's confidential information," said Pat Courtney, baseball's vice president of public relations. "That's one thing if the committee members want it. It would be contrary to our policy that we entered with the union. It's contrary to the collective bargaining agreement."