NEW YORK - Former Sen. George Mitchell's long-awaited report on the use of performance-enhancing substances in baseball was released yesterday, and it pointed the finger at big names.
Try one of the greatest pitchers ever.
Roger Clemens, winner of seven Cy Young awards and 354 games, was one of dozens of players, past and present, who were alleged to have used steroids by Mitchell.
The explosive report, the product of a 20-month investigation by the former Senate majority leader, listed 85 players, including seven who had won most-valuable-player awards.
"For more than a decade there has been widespread illegal use of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing substances by players in Major League Baseball," Mitchell said at a midtown news conference. "Club officials have routinely discussed the possibility of such substance use when evaluating players.
"Everyone involved in baseball over the past two decades - commissioners, club officials, the players' association and players - shares to some extent the responsibility for the steroids era. There was a collective failure to recognize the problem as it emerged and to deal with it early on."
The report named stars and role players. In addition to Clemens, big stars such as Barry Bonds, Miguel Tejada, Gary Sheffield, Andy Pettitte, Eric Gagne and Jason Giambi were named. Past stars such as former Phillie Lenny Dykstra, Kevin Brown and Mo Vaughn were named.
Role players such as former Phillies backup catcher Gary Bennett were also named.
The report numbered 409 pages and included a number of exhibits - canceled checks, personal notes and mail receipts - from Kirk Radomski, the former New York Mets clubhouse attendant who cooperated with Mitchell after pleading guilty to charges of illegally distributing performance-enhancing substances.
While acknowledging that the use of steroids has decreased in baseball since the sport adopted a testing program in 2003, Mitchell made a number of suggestions on how to better the program.
Mitchell said baseball should create a department of investigations led by a senior executive who reports directly to the president of Major League Baseball to respond promptly and aggressively to allegations of illegal use or possession of performance-enhancing substances.
He said that department should work closely with law enforcement officials.
Mitchell also suggested that baseball once again toughen its testing program, with more year-round testing, a move that would require union approval.
Commissioner Bud Selig called the report "a call to action" and said he would act.
Selig added that he believes rules against steroid use are working and that baseball was still helping to fund a study for a reliable test for human growth hormone, which has allegedly gained popularity among players.
In his report, Mitchell urged baseball to learn from its steroid era and move past it.
"I urge the commissioner to forgo discipline on players for past violations of baseball rules on performance-enhancing substances, including the players named in this report, except in those cases where he determines that the conduct is so serious that discipline is necessary to maintain the integrity of the game," Mitchell said. "The report required us to look back. All efforts should now focus on the future."
In a separate news conference, Selig agreed that baseball needed to look forward, but he did not rule out disciplining players named in the report.
"I will deal with active players identified as users of performance-enhancing substances on a case-by-case basis," Selig said. "I'll review Senator Mitchell's findings, and if action is needed, action will be taken."
Asked specifically about Clemens, Selig said he would not comment on individual players.
Baseball did not have a policy against steroid use until 2003, so punishing players who used steroids before that time could be difficult.
Mitchell conducted hundreds of interviews in his investigation, which began in March 2006, shortly after a best-selling book detailing slugger Bonds' steroid use was released. He interviewed 68 former players and dozens of front-office officials.
Without subpoena power, Mitchell's ability to interview current players was severely limited. He cited the Major League Baseball Players' Association for a lack of cooperation.
Union head Don Fehr seemed perturbed that Mitchell did not afford him ample time to read the report before meeting with reporters yesterday.
"We only saw the report an hour before it was made public," Fehr said. "We have not had an opportunity to study it in detail. For now, however, we can say the following:
"Many players are named, their reputations adversely affected forever, even if it turns out down the road that they should not have been. Anyone interested in fairly assessing the allegations against a player should consider the nature of the evidence presented, the reliability of its source and the absence of procedural safeguards individuals who may be accused of wrongdoing should be afforded."
About two hours after the report was made public, two U.S. representatives at the forefront of Capitol Hill's involvement in the steroids issue - California Democrat Henry Waxman and Virginia Republican Tom Davis - asked Mitchell, Selig and Fehr to testify at a House committee hearing next week.
Radomski was Mitchell's star witness. As part of a plea deal with federal authorities, he provided Mitchell with information on dozens of players.
Dealings with Radomski led Mitchell to Brian McNamee, a former personal trainer for Clemens and Pettitte, both of whom pitched for the New York Yankees last season. The report says that McNamee first injected Clemens with steroids in 1998, and Clemens told McNamee that the drug "had a pretty good effect" on him.
"I have great respect for Senator Mitchell," Clemens' attorney, Rusty Hardin, said. "But I respectfully suggest it is very unfair to include Roger's name in this report. He is left with no meaningful way to combat what he strongly contends are totally false allegations. He has not been charged with anything. He will not be charged with anything, and yet he is being tried in the court of public opinion with no recourse. That is totally wrong. There has never been one shred of tangible evidence that he ever used these substances, and yet he is being slandered today."
Philadelphia-based player agent Rex Gary, a former prosecuting attorney, was also disappointed that the report listed names.
"It's unfortunate and unnecessary," Gary said. "Naming names damages reputations. We could have learned about this era without naming names.
"Radomski's statements are hearsay, self-serving and in many instances without reliable corroboration. In court, an attorney would be able to confront him and cross-examine him to cast doubt on the veracity of his testimony. Not here."
Mitchell, a director of the Boston Red Sox, was asked whether his investigation created a conflict with the American League team.
"Judge me by my work," Mitchell said.
Baseball ties: He has been a director of the Boston Red Sox since John Henry's group bought the franchise in 2002. He also served on Bug Selig's economic study committee from 1999 to 2000.
Previous probe: In the late 1990s, Mitchell led a U.S. Olympic Committee ethics panel following allegations of bribery against Salt Lake City's bid committee.
Career: Mitchell served as Senate majority leader from 1989 to '95, then left the Senate and helped broker a 1998 peace agreement in Northern Ireland. In 1994, he turned down President Clinton's offer of an appointment to the Supreme Court.
Other positions: He was U.S. attorney for Maine from 1977 to '79, then was a federal judge for a year before becoming a U.S. senator.
Boards: He also served as chairman of the Walt Disney Co., ESPN's parent company, from March 2004 to 2006. Mitchell is a partner and chairman of the global board of DLA Piper, the law firm that headed the drugs investigation.
SOURCE: Associated PressEndText
A department of investigations should be established, led by a senior executive who operates independently but reports directly to the president of Major League Baseball.
Teams should have clear policies relating to substance violations.
There should be logging of packages sent to players.
The drug-testing program should be year-round and unannounced.
Transparency of the program should be achieved by outside audits and the publishing of periodic aggregate reports.
Teams should perform background checks on prospective clubhouse personnel and random drug testing after they are hired.
The top 100 prospects should be tested before June's annual draft.
The commissioner should not discipline players for past violations except in those cases where it is determined "the conduct is so serious that discipline is necessary to maintain the integrity of the game."~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~EndText
Go to http://go.philly.com/baseballsteroids for video of George Mitchell's news conference, the report, a chance to vote your opinion, and more. EndText