Congress trying to determine whether Palmeiro lied

Updated: September 20, 2005, 12:38 AM ET
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Congressional investigators looking into whether Rafael Palmeiro lied under oath are interviewing players who know him, including a Colorado outfielder suspended this year for steroids.

Palmeiro testified to the House Government Reform Committee in March that he never had used steroids. The Baltimore Orioles slugger, one of four players in history with 3,000 hits and 500 homers, was suspended by Major League Baseball for 10 days in August for failing a drug test.

A congressional source familiar with the committee's work, speaking to the AP on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, said Monday that several active players have spoken or will speak with the committee. That source would not identify who was interviewed.

But Colorado Rockies outfielder Jorge Piedra told The Associated Press on Monday that he spoke on the phone with the committee. He said investigators contacted him through his agent about a week ago, found out "all they wanted to know" in a matter of minutes and didn't plan to contact him again.

Piedra, the second player publicly identified under the sport's new steroid rules when he was suspended for 10 days in April, said the committee "had a few questions and I just answered them honestly."

"I told them I didn't have anything to do with Palmeiro," Piedra said after the Rockies played the Padres in Denver. "We only worked out a few times together."

The congressional source indicated that all the players asked to talk to the committee recently were chosen because they have relationships with Palmeiro -- such as teammates or workout partners -- and could have knowledge about whether he might have used steroids before his testimony.

"I guess they were searching to see if we had discussed anything concerning enhancement drugs," Piedra said. "But we didn't. He's kind of a veteran. I'm kind of a rookie."

Piedra said it was difficult to talk to investigators about another player.

"He is one of the greatest players," Piedra said. "Obviously, I'm not going to condemn him for something I've done too. Whether he took something or he didn't, he's still one of the best to ever step on the field."

On March 17, Palmeiro appeared before the Government Reform Committee alongside Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, pointed his finger for emphasis and declared: "I have never used steroids. Period."

On Aug. 1, baseball announced his suspension. Palmeiro stood by his statements to Congress, saying he didn't know what caused the test result.

When he returned to the Orioles after his ban, Palmeiro said he would not speak about the case until Congress concludes its perjury investigation.

He had just two hits in 26 at-bats after returning and was booed by spectators at Baltimore and on the road. Palmeiro hasn't played since going home to Texas early this month to rehabilitate knee and ankle injuries.

Palmeiro has not been interviewed by the committee since he was suspended, but he did agree to allow Major League Baseball to turn over his test results and other documents to Congress, and the committee has praised him for being cooperative.

It doesn't appear likely that Government Reform would hold another hearing on steroids in the near future, because chairman Tom Davis, R-Va., will be running hearings on the response to Hurricane Katrina.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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