Union seeks to keep names from grand jury

2/13/2007 - MLB

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Major League Baseball Players
Association asked a federal appeals court late Monday to revisit
its December decision to allow investigators probing steroids in
sports to use the names and urine samples of more than 100 players
who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs.

The 2-1 decision in December by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals in San Francisco overturned three lower court decisions and
could help authorities pinpoint the source of steroids in baseball.

Investigators seized computer files containing the test results
in 2004 during raids of labs involved in MLB's testing program. The
samples were collected at baseball's direction the previous year as
part of a survey to gauge the prevalence of steroid use. Players
and owners agreed in their labor contract that the results would be
confidential, and each player was assigned a code number to be
matched with his name.

Quest Diagnostics of Teterboro, N.J., one of the largest
drug-testing firms in the nation, analyzed more than 1,400 urine
samples from players that season. Comprehensive Drug Testing of
Long Beach, Calif., coordinated the collection of specimens and
compiled the data. Comprehensive joined the players in their
petition to the appeals court to rehear the case with 15 judges.

If the December decision survives, the players who tested
positive could be called before a grand jury and asked how they
obtained their steroids.

Federal investigators originally demanded to see the 2003
results for Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield, who was recently traded by
the New York Yankees to the Detroit Tigers, the Yankees' Jason
Giambi and seven other players.

When they raided the testing labs for those 10 results,
investigators also seized computer files containing the test
results of nearly 100 other players not named in the government's
subpoena and warrants.

"If the majority's decision is allowed to stand, it will create
circuit law giving the government carte blanche to use a warrant
for some piece of data on a computer as the pretext for seizing the
entire computer and perusing its contents," attorneys for the
union and lab wrote.

The testing was part of baseball's effort to determine whether a
stricter drug-testing policy was needed. Because 5 percent or more
of the tests for steroids came back positive, it automatically
triggered the start of testing with penalties in 2004.

The lower courts had declared the use of the data beyond the
original 10 names harassment and unreasonable.

There is no timeline for the court to decide whether to rehear
the case.

The case is United States v. Comprehensive Drug Testing Inc.,