Grand jury asking for drug test results

Updated: February 13, 2004, 1:26 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

SAN FRANCISCO -- Major league baseball players are worried that results from drug tests administered with a guarantee of anonymity could wind up in the hands of federal officials probing a steroids scandal.

A federal grand jury probing a nutritional supplements lab accused of supplying athletes with the newly unmasked steroid THG has subpoenaed the results of drug tests performed last year on all major league players, a baseball official said Tuesday.

Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball's executive vice president for labor relations, said the subpoenas were issued to the two agencies used by the major leagues to do the drug testing -- Comprehensive Drug Testing of Long Beach, and Quest Diagnostics of Teterboro, N.J.

A lawyer familar with the investigation, who spoke Tuesday with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said the documents requested in the subpoenas had not yet been turned over to the grand jury.

Baseball players were told the results would be confidential.

But, as first reported by The San Francisco Chronicle, if the grand jury obtains the information it could become part of the public record in subsequent court proceedings.

Though the testing was anonymous, each player was assigned a code number to be matched with his name.

"I don't understand why [the grand jury] has to get every single name," Athletics union representative Tim Hudson told the Chronicle. "I don't understand legally how they can do that. No. 1, with the [collective bargaining] agreement, names aren't supposed to come out. It seems like a mess to me."

Hudson, who has a slight 6-foot-1 frame, also told the newspaper "all I know is I'm not doing steroids, that's for sure."

"The agreement was that it was going to be anonymous and confidential, and we intend to stand by that principle to the extent that we can," Manfred said. "That is a central feature of the agreement."

In response to the subpoenas, the Major League Baseball Players Association sent a memo to all players on 40-man rosters, and their agents, instructing its members to refrain from comment until a decision regarding the collective bargaining agreement has been made.

In the memo obtained by ESPN, MLBPA's executive director Don Fehr wrote: "We are currently looking into the appropriate steps to take in order to maintain both the intent and the integrity of the Basic Agreement, and to make sure that the rights of players under the Basic Agreement are protected. However, given both the ongoing grand jury and criminal proceedings, we think that the best course for players is to say nothing about these matters."

Quest, among the largest drug-testing firms in the nation, analyzed baseball's 1,438 urine samples last season. CDT coordinated the collection of specimens and compiled the data.

Representatives of Quest and CDT did not respond to repeated phone calls and e-mail messages Tuesday from the AP.

Manfred said there were currently no subpoenas directed at Major League Baseball itself. It was unclear if the MLBPA was subpoenaed. Calls and e-mails Tuesday to union officials were not returned.

The Chronicle, quoting four sources familiar with the probe, who all requested anonymity, said the subpoenas were issued two months ago to the two drug-testing agencies, preserving the evidence the day before the test results were to be destroyed.

Baseball's testing last season for performance-enhancing drugs was intended to determine whether a more extensive policy would be implemented in the future. When more than 5 percent of players' tests were positive for steroids, a stricter plan was put into effect starting this season.

Even though that plan has been ridiculed as weak and filled with loopholes, it would ban steroid use by major leaguers for the first time and impose punishments including suspensions for repeated use.

"...The bottom line is, if you're not doing [steroids], you've got nothing to worry about," A's general manager Billy Beane told the Chronicle.

The grand jury has spent months on the drug and tax case that centers around BALCO. The only two people identified so far as targets of the probe are BALCO founder Victor Conte and Greg Anderson, a personal trainer for Barry Bonds and other athletes.

Bonds is among the dozens of athletes from five sports who appeared before the panel last fall. The group also includes track star Marion Jones and her boyfriend, 100-meter world record-holder Tim Montgomery; seven NFL players, and Olympic champion swimmer Amy Van Dyken.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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