Report: Selig won't rule out suspension if laws broken

Updated: October 25, 2007, 12:12 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Gary Matthews Jr., Paul Byrd, Rick Ankiel and other Major League Baseball players who have been linked to human growth hormone in published reports face the prospect of a Bud Selig-imposed suspension if they are found to have violated U.S. law.

Citing a high-ranking major league official, The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday that Major League Baseball's commissioner hasn't ruled out such discipline for players even if they did not violate baseball's drug policy.

Major League Baseball did not ban HGH until January 2005, but steroids and HGH have been, and still are, illegal without a legitimate prescription.

SI.com reported earlier this year that Matthews ordered HGH in 2004. The Los Angeles Angels outfielder is expected to be called to Selig's office in November to discuss the report, The Times reported.

Byrd is the player most recently linked to HGH. On Sunday, the day of Game 7 of the ALCS, the San Francisco Chronicle reported the Indians right-hander had purchased nearly $25,000 worth of HGH and syringes between 2002 and 2005. Byrd said he was taking the drug under a doctor's care for what he described as a pituitary gland issue.

Byrd said the Indians and MLB officials knew of his condition -- "I have nothing to hide," Byrd said Sunday -- but both disputed the pitcher's claim. Baseball officials said they want to discuss the matter with him.

MLB also is bracing for the release, sometime in November or December, of the report of former Sen. George Mitchell's steroid investigation. In the time since Mitchell launched the probe 18 months ago, many have wondered whether the final report would reveal names.

It appears that will happen. Some officials came away from a 30-team MLB conference call recently with the understanding that Mitchell's probe into the use of performancing-enhancing drugs in the game would include many names, names which have so far not been disclosed publicly, and the names of well-known players.

According to those familiar with the conference call, Tom Carlucci, a lawyer for MLB, told the team representatives on the conference call that the report is going to be "salacious."

Meanwhile, Selig's office has started to receive information from the New York investigators leading a national probe into Internet drug trafficking, the official said. Documents and other supporting evidence could help Selig determine whether to impose a suspension -- and could help his lawyers in arguing any suspension should survive a potential grievance hearing.

Information from The Associated Press and Buster Olney of ESPN The Magazine was used in this report.