Ex-Mets employee pleads guilty, agrees to help MLB

Updated: April 29, 2007, 5:32 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

SAN FRANCISCO -- A former employee of the New York Mets has pleaded guilty to distributing performance-enhancing drugs to dozens of major league players between 1995 and 2005, and is cooperating with baseball's steroids investigation.

Steve Phillips' take
Steve Phillips
ESPN Baseball Tonight analyst and former Mets general manager Steve Phillips admits that if any names come out from the latest steroids investigation news, he hopes it doesn't include any of his former players. Story

Kirk Radomski, 37, admitted providing anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, Clenbuterol, amphetamines and other drugs to "dozens of current and former Major League Baseball players, and associates, on teams throughout Major League Baseball," San Francisco U.S. Attorney Scott Schools said in a statement.

"The distribution of anabolic steroids to professional athletes cheats both the paying public and the clean athletes and is a serious crime," Schools said. "This investigation shows that distribution of performance-enhancing drugs continues to be an issue for sport in America. This office is dedicated to pursuing those who benefit from such crimes."

Friday's guilty plea is the latest development in the steroids scandal that has plagued sport in recent years. And it put baseball back in the doping spotlight and surely will get fans wondering what names will follow.

"We support the efforts of the U.S. Attorney's office in combating the illegal use of performance-enhancing substances, and we are encouraged that the U.S. Attorney has insisted Mr. Radomski cooperate with Senator George Mitchell's investigation as a condition of the plea agreement," MLB president Bob DuPuy said in a statement. "We urge all personnel connected with Major League Baseball to come forward with whatever information they may have that will assist Senator Mitchell in his investigation."

Buster Olney's take
Olney
Kirk Radomski's plea bargain, and his cooperation with both federal investigators and Major League Baseball's George Mitchell-led investigation, could be the biggest break in uncovering some of baseball's steroid use. He could turn out to be to baseball what Sammy "The Bull" Gravano was to the Mob. Consider:

• As a clubhouse employee for the Mets for 11 years, and then in his later work as a personal trainer, Radomski would have had contact with literally hundreds and hundreds of players. A source said Friday evening that the federal case involved "dozens" of players, and someone who has seen an investigation affidavit indicated that Radomski told investigators -- to paraphrase -- that if they thought the allegations in Jose Canseco's book were explosive, they would be blown away by what Radomski could report.

• Since agreeing to cooperate with federal investigators, Radomski has apparently been working in concert with them for months. The sealed affidavit in Radomski's initial bust was dated December 2005. That means he could have been cooperating with federal investigators for as long as the last 17 months, perhaps distributing performance-enhancing drugs to players under the guise of the investigators, perhaps wearing a wire, having his phone conversations recorded. And while Radomski could speak to his own alleged distribution, he also could tell all that he knows about performance-enhancing drug use that he saw while he was with the Mets. It's conceivable that it was Radomski who helped lead investigators to the implication of Jason Grimsley one year ago.

• This has presumably given the Mitchell investigation its biggest break so far. As one source said, with this, federal investigators have effectively handed over a "Tiffany box" full of steroid information to Mitchell's team -- leads to be followed up with requests to speak to current and former players.

-- Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine

• Buster Olney has more on baseball's steroids investigation on The SportsBash. Listen

The story was first reported by the New York Daily News. SI.com, the San Jose Mercury News and Washington Post all were reporting details from a search warrant affidavit that's under seal.

Radomski, a former Mets batboy who also worked as an equipment manager and clubhouse assistant while with the team from 1985-95, surrendered Friday in U.S. District Court, scene of the BALCO steroid proceedings and prosecutions, and pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of a controlled substance -- anabolic steroids -- and one count of money laundering.

Radomski, who faces up to 25 years in prison and $500,000 in fines, was considered by authorities to be the chief supplier of drugs for baseball players after the feds shut down BALCO in 2003.

"This individual was a major dealer of anabolic steroids and performance-enhancing drugs whose clientele was focused almost exclusively on Major League Baseball players," assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Parrella said. "He operated for approximately a decade."

The case is being handled by the same federal investigators who netted guilty pleas from BALCO founder Victor Conte and Barry Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson, among others.

The affidavit contained blacked-out information, including what appeared to be players' names, the newspapers said. Parrella declined to name Radomski's clients. Sports Illustrated, which also has reviewed the warrant, reported on its Web site that at least one player associated with BALCO also has been implicated in the Radomski investigation.

Sports Illustrated, quoting from the warrant, reported "numerous significant deposits from current and former [Major League Baseball] players and some affiliated individuals" were made to Radomski. He received more than $23,000, pulled from more than 20 different payments between 2003-05 that are alleged to have been made in conjunction with steroids purchases, according to the documents viewed by SI.

Howard Johnson, a Mets infielder in the 1980s and currently the team's first-base coach, told The Associated Press he remembered Radomski.

"He was a clubhouse kid, one of several, one of the kids that were there," Johnson said before the Mets played at Washington on Friday night.

Former Mets pitcher Ron Darling, now a team broadcaster, said he didn't remember Radomski.

Mets spokesman Jay Horwitz said equipment manager Charlie Samuels would not be available for comment.

"We were surprised and disappointed to learn of the guilty plea today," the Mets said in a statement. "The conduct in question is diametrically opposed to the values and standards of the Mets organization and our owners.

"We are and always have been adamantly opposed to the use of performance-enhancing drugs and continue to support Major League Baseball's efforts to eradicate any such use in our game," the team said.

"This individual was a major dealer of anabolic steroids and performance-enhancing drugs whose clientele was focused almost exclusively on Major League Baseball players."
-- Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Parrella

Since federal agents raided BALCO in Burlingame, Calif., in September 2003, Major League Baseball has been trying to come to grips with the specter of steroids on the sport. One-third of the more than 30 athletes subpoenaed to testify in front of a grand jury investigating BALCO were some of baseball's most prominent stars -- Bonds, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield.

Bonds, who holds baseball's single-season home run record and is within 14 home runs of tying Hank Aaron's career record of 755, was a focal point of the BALCO investigation. Bonds has repeatedly said that he has never knowingly used steroids.

Earlier this year, another drug investigation exploded on the East Coast as federal agents targeted steroid distribution networks in Florida and Alabama that were responsible for Internet sales of performance-enhancing drugs nationwide. Los Angeles Angels center fielder Gary Matthews Jr. has been alleged to be among several athletes listed as customers.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.