Dowd suggests suspension for those who don't cooperate with probe
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' association.
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 happens."
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 player."
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.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press