Union seeks to keep names from grand jury
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., 05-10067.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press