Dowd suggests suspension for those who don't cooperate with probe

5/30/2007 - MLB

NEW YORK -- The lawyer who headed baseball's investigation
of Pete Rose wants commissioner Bud Selig to suspend players who
don't cooperate with the steroids probe spearheaded by former
Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

John Dowd said Selig should try to overturn the 1980 arbitration
decision in a case involving Ferguson Jenkins. The ruling upheld a
player's right to refuse to answer questions from baseball
management if it jeopardized his legal position in a criminal case.

"I tell you what, it's time that stuff was challenged," Dowd
said Tuesday in a telephone interview during which he criticized
the players' union. "They already have too much power on this
whole [steroids] issue anyway, in my opinion. And they've abused
it. It's really disgraceful what the union's done here."

Mitchell has tried to interview active players; the union has
told them it's their choice to agree or decline. So far, it appears
no active players have been interviewed by Mitchell, and the union
reminded members in a memo last week to seek legal counsel if
approached by investigators.

"I would expect that commissioner Selig and Senator Mitchell
would respect the precedent established by our arbitration panel,"
said Michael Weiner, the general counsel of the players'

Dowd, initially critical of Selig's decision to hire Mitchell,
said he and former commissioner Fay Vincent both spoke with
investigators early in the probe, which began in March 2006. Dowd
said he received occasional briefings and that he understands
information that resulted from the federal plea agreement with
former Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski has been useful to
Mitchell's investigators.

"I don't hear any names but I think he's got some good
corroboration," Dowd said.

Mitchell confirmed in March that his staff has spoken with
retired players.

"I heard that the interviews with the former ballplayers went
very well," Dowd said. "A lot of people sang, so let's see what

On the day that he hired Mitchell, Selig acknowledged the
difficulty baseball had in forcing players to cooperate.

"Arbitrators have been reluctant to allow compelled,
potentially self-incriminating testimony," Selig said. "The
investigatory authority of Major League Baseball, therefore, is
particularly limited when the allegations relate to conduct that
can create or has created a risk of criminal prosecution for the

Jenkins, then with the Texas Rangers, was suspended indefinitely
by former commissioner Bowie Kuhn on Sept. 9, 1980, when he refused
to answer questions from management following his arrest in Canada
on a drug charge. The suspension was lifted 13 days later by
arbitrator Raymond Goetz.