Mitchell asks to talk to players as part of steroids probe
NEW YORK -- Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell has asked to start player interviews as part of his steroids probe and expects to complete his investigation in the "coming months."
On the eve of the first anniversary of his appointment, Mitchell said Thursday evidence-gathering has been slowed by legal issues.
"None of these obstacles will prevent me from completing the investigation, but they have affected the time required to do so," he said in a three-paragraph statement issued in response to questions posed by The Associated Press. "Other work remains, but I hope and expect that I will be able to complete the investigation in the coming months. No one wants to finish this investigation more than I do, and I am committed to completing the remaining work and to issuing my final report as soon as possible."
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig announced Mitchell's hiring on March 30, 2006. Mitchell's staff has been at spring training camps talking with management personnel; his investigators have not interviewed active players yet, union general counsel Michael Weiner said Thursday.
"In the course of our work, we have conducted hundreds of interviews of individuals with current or past connections to baseball, including many former players," Mitchell said. "I have just recently requested that interviews of current players begin promptly. This is one of the final phases of the investigation and obviously will be significant, especially since, as I have previously said, the principal victims of the illegal use of performance-enhancing substances by some players are the majority of players who don't use them."
Mitchell sent some players letters this year asking for waivers that would allow his staff to obtain certain medical records. Lawyers for the union have been negotiating an agreement on a centralized procedure that would allow him data, a person familiar with the talks said Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the matter publicly. It remains unclear whether an agreement will be reached.
"At the time of my appointment, I made clear that there could be no firm timetable for completion of this investigation," Mitchell said. "Understandably, for some, gathering the information I have requested has been burdensome and time-consuming. In other instances, credible legal issues have been raised which we have worked hard to resolve."
Mitchell told baseball owners in January that he needed better cooperation from teams, and Selig said Mitchell has received it since then.
"I've had no complaints from anybody on any side," Selig said last week.
Union leader Donald Fehr has said during his spring training tour that each player will decide on his own whether to cooperate with Mitchell.
"We'll continue to talk with them as things arise, but I've got no other comment," Fehr said.
In his January statement, Mitchell said he was hampered by a lack of subpoena power and suggested Congress could become involved if he's stymied.
Selig said it's too early to tell when the report will be issued.
"We're plowing new ground," he said. "There was no way to know exactly what time limit you would have to put on it, and that's good. I don't know the answer to that, and I don't think the senator knows the answer to that."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
• Players' union files grievance on Guillen's behalf
• Mitchell Report due next week
• Guillen, Gibbons suspended 15 days
• Chart: Players who have violated MLB policy
• Sources: HGH suspension in works for Guillen
• Angels owner: Mitchell report will include names
• HBO to turn Bonds steroids book into movie
• BALCO figures fear leaks
• Personal trainer pleads guilty to distribution
• Union: 11 free agents sought in Mitchell talks
• China promises to bust doping industry
• Radomski's sentencing delayed until December
• Matthews Jr. discusses HGH allegations with MLB
• Report: Guillen, Williams bought steroids
• Top lawyer defends MLB testing procedures
• Report: Teams get advance notice of drug tests
• Indians' Byrd admits to using HGH
• NY raid nets $7.2 million in growth hormone
• Union: Mitchell didn't offer to share evidence
• Report: Mitchell gets papers from ex-Mets aide
• Sources: Mitchell's report to reveal many names
• MLB may suspend players who got banned drugs
• Source: Schoeneweis received steroids shipments
• DEA pulls off series of steroid raids
• ESPN The Magazine: China's open drug supply
• Ankiel meets with MLB officials on HGH report
• Report: MLB eyes use of HGH blood test in '08
• Gibbons meets with MLB officials
• Albany sits down with Mitchell Commission reps
• MLB considers adding fertility drugs to banned list
• MLB wants D.A.'s cooperation in pharmacy probe
• MLB requests meeting with Gibbons
• Report: Orioles' Gibbons received steroids, HGH
• Report: Pharmacy shipped steroids to Glaus
• Report: Ankiel linked to HGH | Gammons
• Olney blog: 1998 all over again?
• Harrison cooperated with prosecutors
• Harrison suspended for four games by NFL
• Report: Ex-MLB clubhouse man names names
• Fla. man pleads guilty to steroid sales conspiracy
• Judge denies request to release names in Grimsley case
• Report: Feds provided players names to Mitchell
• Feds: Mitchell got incomplete affidavit
• Ex-BALCO prosecutor says probe could end soon
• Sports leaders, feds discuss fight against steroids
• O's quiet as steroids speculation spins
• Mitchell seeks medical records
• Former doc guilty in prescription scam
From The Archives• The Dope On Steroids
• Mets did little to discourage steroid use
• E-Ticket: Who knew?
Analysis• Howard Bryant: Steroids, HGH and the pennant races
• Buster Olney: Blood test request on horizon
• Jayson Stark: Applying double standards
• Buster Olney: 1998 all over again?
• Rob Neyer: No big deal
• Ankiel timeline
• Peter Gammons: Stuff of legend