(by Tim Lemke, Dec. 14, 2007, WashingtonTimes.com) – A 21-month investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball concluded yesterday that cheating has been rampant in the sport for more than a decade and called initial responses by baseball officials to address the issue “slow and inadequate.”
Nearly 80 current and former players appear in the 409-page report, including former San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds, New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens, former Baltimore Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada and new Washington Nationals catcher Paul Lo Duca.
Read the complete Mitchell Report Click here for the report
(NOTE: This document is in PDF format.)
“Obviously, the players who illegally used performance-enhancing substances are responsible for their actions,” said former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, who was appointed to lead the investigation by baseball Commissioner Alan H. “Bud” Selig in March 2006. “But they did not act in a vacuum. Everyone involved in baseball over the past two decades Ã¢â‚¬â€ commissioners, club officials, the Players Association, and players Ã¢â‚¬â€ shares to some extent in the responsibility for the steroids era.”
Mr. Selig appointed Mr. Mitchell after the book “Game of Shadows” detailed steroid use by several top athletes, especially Bonds, who broke the all-time home-run record this past summer.
In his report, Mr. Mitchell suggested that the league form a full-time unit to investigate cases of performance-enhancing drug use and outsource its drug testing to an independent group. He also said the league should fight for the power to discipline players for steroid use in the absence of a positive test.
“His report is a call to action,” Mr. Selig said. “And I will act. There’s nothing in his recommendations I could begin to disagree with.”
Much of the information in Mr. Mitchell’s report comes from Kirk Radomski, a former New York Mets clubhouse attendant who spoke to Mr. Mitchell as part of a deal with federal law-enforcement agencies in which he admitted distributing steroids and human growth hormone to players. In his meetings with Mr. Mitchell, Radomski provided documentation including checks, mailing labels and phone records and said he sold steroids and human growth hormone (HGH) to several players including former Orioles players Larry Bigbie and David Segui.
Adam Piatt, a former outfielder for the Oakland Athletics, told Mr. Mitchell that Radomski provided him with HGH in 2003. Piatt also said he had provided steroids to Tejada when they were teammates in Oakland, although he did not know whether Tejada ever used them.
Other information was provided to Mr. Mitchell by Brian McNamee, a trainer and associate of Radomski’s who had also struck a deal with federal prosecutors. McNamee told Mr. Mitchell that in 1998, he supplied steroids to Clemens, then a pitcher with the Toronto Blue Jays. McNamee also told investigators that he supplied HGH to Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte in 2002.
“I am extremely upset that Roger’s name was in this report based on the allegations of a troubled and unreliable witness who only came up with names after being threatened with possible prison time,” Clemens’ attorney Rusty Hardin said.
Clemens, like most of the players appearing in Mr. Mitchell’s report, has never tested positive for steroids. Most of the accusations involve activity that took place before the league instituted its current drug policy, which calls for mandatory testing and 50-game suspension for a first offense. That policy was put in place in 2005 after negotiations with the players’ union.
Legal experts also said the cases against players named in the report are uncompelling.
“There’s a lot of second-, third- and fourth-hand gossip here,” said Marc Mukasey, leader of the white-collar and special investigations practice at the law firm of Bracewell & Giuliani and former chief of narcotics at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York. “Kirk Radomski is a convicted felon, and he’s giving information to save only one person, and that’s Kirk Radomski. He’s doing it to save his own behind.”
Mr. Mitchell, now chairman of the law firm DLA Piper, interviewed more than 700 witnesses, including Mr. Selig , MLB Chief Operating Officer Robert DuPuy and Robert Manfred, the league’s executive vice president for labor relations. He received practically no cooperation from the MLB Players Association, obtaining just a single interview with Donald Fehr, the union’s executive director.
In addition, Mr. Mitchell attempted to interview nearly 500 former players but eventually spoke to only 68.
Mr. Mitchell said the union’s reluctance to cooperate was “understandable,” given the separate, active investigations into performance-enhancing drugs by state and federal officials. Mr. Selig, however, said he had hoped for more union cooperation.
Mr. Mitchell recommended that baseball forgo disciplining any players in the report.
“A principal goal of this investigation is to bring to a close this troubling chapter in baseball’s history,” Mr. Mitchell said. “While that requires us to look back, as this report necessarily does, all efforts should now be directed to the future … spending more months, or even years, in contentious disciplinary proceedings will keep everyone mired in the past.”
Mr. Selig said he would review each accusation in the report on a “case-by-case” basis and issue discipline accordingly. He also acknowledged frustration with the league’s inability to test for HGH, but said the league is working with the National Football League and several doctors on developing one in the near future. He also said baseball will host an “HGH summit” to address the issue.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MITCHELL REPORT
- Nearly 80 players were named, including Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Miguel Tejada, Nook Logan and Paul Lo Duca.
- Most information came from former Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski and Yankees trainer Brian McNamee, who both spoke to George Mitchell after striking deals with federal prosecutors.
- Team owners, league officials and the commissioner were accused of being slow to act on the steroid issue until the past two years.
Mr. Mitchell issued several recommendations, including:
- Outsourcing steroid testing to an independent body.
- Allowing the commissioner to discipline players for steroid use even in the absence of a positive test.
- Bolstering a steroids education program.
- Establishing a department of investigations to look into accusations of player wrongdoing.
Copyright 2007 News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of the Washington Times. This reprint does not constitute or imply any endorsement or sponsorship of any product, service, company or organization. Visit the website at www.washingtontimes.com.
1. What conclusion did George Mitchell make at the end of his investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs in major league baseball?
2. Who is Bud Selig?
3. What caused Mr. Selig to order an investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs in major league baseball?
4. What did Mr. Mitchell suggest that the baseball league do in response to his findings?
5. How did Mr. Selig respond to Mr. Mitchell’s suggestions?
6. Where did Mr. Mitchell get much of the information on players’ use of performance-enhancing drugs?
7. How did Roger Clemens’ attorney respond to the allegations against Mr. Clemens?
8. a) What is major league baseball’s current drug policy?
b) When was this policy instituted?
9. a) When did most of the reported drug activity take place?
b) Do you think that this should excuse players from punishment? Explain your answer.
10. a) Do you agree with Mr. Mitchell’s recommendations in para. 17-18? Explain your answer.
b) How does the knowledge that many players took performance enhancing drugs affect your admiration of them or your love of the game? Or, if you have a different favorite sport, would this type of scandal concern you? Explain your answers.
11. Barry Bonds’ record breaking ball for home-runs sold in September for $752,467. With the report concluding that Bonds took performance-enhancing drugs, do you think the ball should be worth more, less, or nothing? Explain your answer.
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