In the two years since special agent Greg Stejskal had arrested Curtis Wenzlaff, Stejskal hadn't told anyone on the outside what he'd learned about baseball's steroid problem. He certainly hadn't shared his knowledge with Major League Baseball. But on this August 1994 night, Stejskal decided to change that.
After a day of seminars about sports scandals at the FBI's training center in Quantico, Va., Stejskal found himself at a table with other attendees, nursing beers and talking about their cases. Kevin Hallinan, baseball's chief of security and one of the presenters, was at the table, too. Everyone was talking about work when the subject of Stejskal's investigations into steroid trafficking arose. What the hell, he figured, glancing at the ex-New York City cop. Might as well let Hallinan know what I found.
Stejskal and his partner, Bill Randall (who'd posed undercover as steroid buyer Eddie Schmidt), had been sitting on information that had never been made public. Wenzlaff, it turned out, had been a very helpful witness. He'd talked a blue streak about Jose Canseco and the drugs he'd supplied the slugger. He'd also said he believed Canseco was dealing to other major leaguers.
But those details hadn't come out on Aug. 10, 1992, when the U.S. Attorney's office in Detroit unsealed indictments against Wenzlaff and 36 others. Operation Equine, as it was dubbed by its Detroit-bureau FBI architects, had targeted suppliers, not users like Canseco. The absence in the indictment of any mention of the former MVP kept his connection to Wenzlaff under wraps. Even A's GM Sandy Alderson (later Bud Selig's
director of baseball operations) would claim he'd never heard of the guy who had hung around his club. Three weeks after the indictments, Canseco had been traded to Texas, where he'd joined a murderer's row that included Ivan Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez.
Since that day, Stejskal says now, he couldn't help wondering whether he and his colleagues had done the right thing by keeping what he knew about Canseco to himself. He'd hoped Operation Equine would generate huge headlines, that it would deter further steroid use. But while the initial wave of 37 indictments all yielded guilty pleas (Wenzlaff got six months and a $2,500 fine), the case had received almost no attention. With Hurricane Andrew battering South Florida and an upstart governor named Bill Clinton campaigning for the presidency, the press was otherwise engaged.
Stejskal went back to working bank robberies and mail frauds and tried not to be bitter. But in Quantico, almost exactly two years later, and with several Equine-related trials still under way, he was talking about steroids again. "Hey, Kevin, you may be interested in this," the FBI agent said. Then he spent the next few minutes talking about Wenzlaff, Canseco and their unexplored relationship. To his surprise, the security chief just shrugged.
"We've heard it too, but what can we do?" Stejskal recalls Hallinan saying. "The union won't let us test the players. Our hands are tied."
Since that day, [Greg] Stejskal says now, he couldn't help wondering whether he and his colleagues had done the right thing by keeping what he knew about [Jose] Canseco to himself.