Palmeiro: B12 shot may have caused positive test

Updated: November 10, 2005, 8:32 AM ET
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Rafael Palmeiro gave his first public explanation of his failed drug test Wednesday, on the eve of a congressional report on whether the former Baltimore Orioles slugger lied under oath when he denied using steroids.

In a statement released by his lawyer, Palmeiro acknowledged several facts of his case that already had been reported, including that the anabolic steroid stanozolol was found in his system in May, and that he had raised the possibility that a shot of vitamin B12 he took in April "might have been the cause."

"I have never intentionally taken steroids," Palmeiro said in the statement.

When he testified before the House Government Reform Committee on March 17, alongside Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco and others, Palmeiro jabbed a finger in the air and said: "I have never used steroids. Period." On Aug. 1, baseball suspended Palmeiro for 10 days after he tested positive for steroids.

Palmeiro Timeline
Feb. 14: Jose Canseco accuses players, including Rafael Palmeiro, of steroid use in his autobiography, "Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big."
March 17: Palmeiro, Canseco, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and others testify under oath during a House Government Reform Committee hearing on steroids. Palmeiro tells lawmakers: "I have never used steroids. Period."
April: Palmeiro takes a shot of vitamin B-12, given to him by a teammate. Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada later acknowledges he was the teammate.
May 3-4: Palmeiro takes a Major League Baseball drug test; his sample is tested.
May 19: Palmeiro is informed his test was positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol.
May 27: Palmeiro takes a second test -- not administered by Major League Baseball -- which is negative for steroids.
June 12: Major League Baseball tells Palmeiro he'll be suspended; he asks the players' association to file a grievance.
June 16: At an arbitration panel hearing, Palmeiro says he never knowingly took steroids. He offers a possible explanation for the failed test, saying a teammate gave him a vitamin B-12 shot. The vial was thrown away and never tested.
July 15: Palmeiro collects his 3,000th career hit, a double in the fifth inning of Baltimore's 6-3 victory at Seattle. He becomes the fourth player in major league history with 3,000 hits and 500 home runs.
Aug. 1: After Shyam Das, baseball's independent arbitrator, denies the grievance, Palmeiro is suspended for 10 days.
Aug. 2: In a telephone conversation with House Government Reform Committee Chairman Tom Davis, R-Va., Palmeiro agrees to allow Major League Baseball to give Congress documents related to his steroid tests.
Aug. 3: Davis says his committee will investigate whether Palmeiro committed perjury during the March 17 hearing.
Aug. 11: Palmeiro returns to the Orioles after serving his suspension.
Sept. 5: With two hits in 26 at-bats since the suspension, and hearing boos at home and road games, Palmeiro is sent home to Texas by the Orioles to rehabilitate injuries to his right knee and left ankle.
Sept. 23: The Orioles tell Palmeiro not to return to the team.
Oct. 28: Palmeiro becomes a free agent.
Wednesday: Davis' committee says it will release its report on the Palmeiro case on Thursday. About two hours later, Palmeiro's lawyers release a statement in which he takes responsibility for his failed test and offers the explanation of a tainted B-12 shot for the first time publicly.
Thursday: Davis' committee issues its report, which concludes there isn't enough evidence to pursue perjury charges. "We couldn't find any evidence of steroid use prior to his testimony," Davis says. "That's not a finding of innocence, but it's a finding that we could not substantiate perjury."

Two days later, Government Reform Committee chairman Tom Davis, R-Va., said the panel would open an investigation into whether Palmeiro committed perjury. A report on that investigation will be released Thursday, and Davis spokesman Dave Marin wouldn't comment Wednesday on the report's contents or Palmeiro's statement.

Major League Baseball executive vice president Rob Manfred declined comment.

"Nobody is more frustrated and disappointed in me than I am. Throughout my adult life, I have worked very hard on and off the field to live my life in an honorable way. All my accomplishments are now tainted, and many people have been hurt," Palmeiro said.

"I deeply regret the pain I have caused my family, my teammates, my fans and the game of baseball. I am sorry for the distraction that I have caused to the Orioles clubhouse and the League. I remain opposed to the use of steroids by athletes."

Palmeiro's case has been cited as one of the reasons that lawmakers have continued to pursue legislation to mandate tougher rules for steroid testing and harsher penalties for positive tests in baseball and other major professional sports leagues. The Senate appears to be nearing a vote on a bill calling for a half-season ban for a first steroid offense, a full-season ban for a second offense, and a lifetime ban for a third.

"Since I was informed last May that I tested positive for steroids, I have fully cooperated with Major League Baseball and Congress in their respective inquiries into this matter," Palmeiro said. "I have done so because I have nothing to hide."

Palmeiro, one of four players in baseball history with 3,000 hits and 500 homers, agreed to let Major League Baseball turn over to Congress information about the failed drug test.

Committee investigators also interviewed some of Palmeiro's current and former teammates and training partners. Those included two-time American League MVP Juan Gonzalez and Colorado outfielder Jorge Piedra, the second player publicly identified under the sport's new steroid rules when he was banned for 10 days in April.

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

Palmeiro, 40, had just two hits in 26 at-bats after returning from his suspension and was booed by spectators at Baltimore and on the road. He was sent home to Texas to rehabilitate injuries; the Orioles eventually told him not to return to the team.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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