One day before the House Government Reform Committee is expected to announce it does not have enough evidence to charge him with perjury, former Baltimore Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro began a campaign that he hopes will clear his name and improve the possibility of him playing in 2006.
With the help of a public relations firm and his attorneys, Palmeiro fulfilled his promise of one day giving his version of the events that led to his suspension for steroid use, though it may not satisfy those who had hoped for a full confession. Palmeiro, in his first interview addressing his positive steroid test result in May, also said he has not come to a decision on his baseball future, though he has not ruled out playing next season and has treated this offseason as he had any other during his 20-year playing career.
"If I came back to play it would be because of my love of the game and because I enjoy my teammates," he said. "At this point it's still too early in the offseason. I just have to wait and see. If I decided to come back, I'd love to come back to the Orioles." An Orioles official said the team will not consider bringing him back.
But Palmeiro, a free agent, said he does not believe his suspension will cause teams to be wary.
"I know there is going to be interest," he said. "That's just how baseball works."
Palmeiro maintained he has never knowingly used steroids and that he is not certain what caused him to fail his test, though he believes it was a shot of vitamin B-12 that was supplied by Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada.
"I'm not exactly sure how it got into my body," Palmeiro said. "I suspected it was the B-12."
Palmeiro detailed his use of the B-12 shot, but relieved Tejada of any responsibility. Palmeiro said he only brought up Tejada's name when asked under oath during an arbitration hearing. Palmeiro said the two are still friendly.
"He's like a brother to me," Palmeiro said. "Why would I want to bring him down when I take full responsibility for what I did? I was pressured under oath to say what I had taken and what I was given."
Palmeiro said that after a taxing spring, which included testifying in front of the House committee in March, he and Tejada had a conversation about B-12. The shortstop offered the vitamin and Palmeiro accepted. At the start of the season, Palmeiro said he injected the B-12, something he had done several times prior under the care of a physician.
"When the doctor gave it to me I always had that little giddy-up," Palmeiro said.
The commissioner's office had a sample of what Tejada supposedly gave the first baseman tested, although not the actual vial he used, and it was determined the vitamin contained no steroids. Palmeiro said he had no explanation as to why Tejada didn't test positive if both players used B-12 from the same source.
"I'm not sure when he tested," Palmeiro said.
Palmeiro said that he was in such disbelief about testing positive for the steroid stanozolol, especially after he had defiantly denied steroid use during the hearings in March, that the players' association arranged for a second test in late May. Palmeiro passed that test, but physician Gary Green testified during an arbitration hearing with baseball officials that the drug could have been flushed out of Palmeiro's body by the time the second test was administered.
"I was careless," Palmeiro said of taking the B-12. "I'm sorry that I caused all that pain and anguish to my teammates, the Orioles, my fans and my family."
Gary Wadler, a steroid expert from New York University, said that if the B-12 contained stanozolol then it would likely have been sabotaged.
"I've been in the business for many years," Wadler said, "and I've never heard of a B-12 anabolic case."