Mitchell report: Baseball slow to react to players' steroid use
NEW YORK -- Seven MVPs and 31 All-Stars
-- one for every position -- and that still wasn't the worst of it for the long-awaited Mitchell report.
That infamy belonged to Roger Clemens, the greatest pitcher of his era.
The steroids era.
Seven-time Cy Young Award winner, eighth on the all-time list with 354 victories, an MVP and All-Star himself long considered a lock for the Hall of Fame, Clemens now has another distinction: the biggest name linked by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell to illegal use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.
In all, Thursday's 409-page report identified 86 names to differing degrees, but, while he vehemently denied it through his lawyer, Clemens was the symbol.
Representation In Mitchell Report
Teams with the most current/former players named in the Mitchell report. Numbers only include players with teams which they've actually played a game for.
Barry Bonds, already under indictment on charges of lying to a federal grand jury about steroids, Miguel Tejada and Andy Pettitte also showed up in the game's most infamous lineup since the Black Sox scandal. Others include 2003 Cy Young winner Eric Gagne and 2000 AL MVP Jason Giambi.
"If there are problems, I wanted them revealed," commissioner Bud Selig said. "His report is a call to action, and I will act."
President Bush, who once owned the Texas Rangers, said Friday he's been "troubled by the steroid allegations."
"My hope is that this report is a part of putting the steroid era of baseball behind us," said Bush, surrounded by Cabinet members in the Rose Garden.
The Mitchell Report, he said, means "we can jump to this conclusion: that steroids have sullied the game.''
"The players and the owners must take the Mitchell Report seriously," Bush said. "I'm confident they will."
On Friday, Mitchell insisted he provided opportunities for the players identified in his report to respond to the allegations.
Almost without exception, he said on CNN's "American Morning,'' they declined. So Mitchell turned to union head Donald Fehr.
"I wrote a letter to Don Fehr's office setting forth the names and the dates and I wanted to tell them, here is what happened, come in and explain it to me," Mitchell said. "They refused to do so."
Doping was widespread by stars as well as scrubs, the report said, putting a question mark if not an asterisk next to baseball records and threatening the integrity of the game itself.
"Those who have illegally used these substances range from players whose major league careers were brief to potential members of the Baseball Hall of Fame," Mitchell wrote. "They include both pitchers and position players, and their backgrounds are as diverse as those of all major league players."
No one was hit harder than Clemens, singled out in eight pages, 82 references by name. Much of the information on him came from Brian McNamee, the former New York Yankees former strength and conditioning coach.
At 45, Clemens has not said whether he hopes to pitch next season. Through his attorney, Rusty Hardin, Clemens denied he used performance-enhancing drugs and expressed outrage that his name was included in the report.
MLB Drug Policy (Since 2002)
Steroids have been part of baseball's banned substance list since 1991, however testing for major league players did not begin until 2003.
The agreement with the MLBPA called for one random test per player per year with no punishments that first year. If more than 5 percent of players tested positive in 2003, tougher testing would be implemented with penalties ranging from counseling for a first offense to a max one-year suspension for a fifth violation. If less than 2.5 percent tested positive in two consecutive years, testing would be dropped.
In January 2005, MLB and the MLBPA announced a new drug policy, with year-round testing and suspensions ranging from 10 days for a first offense to the commissioner's discretion for a fifth offense.
In November of that same year, MLB and the union agreed to tougher testing, with a 50-game ban for a first offense to a lifetime ban for a third positive test.
|2002||Counseling||15 days||25 days||50 days||1 year|
|Jan. '05||10 days||30 days||60 days||1 year||Comm. decision|
|Nov. 2005||50 games||100 games||Lifetime ban|
"I have great respect for Senator Mitchell. I think an overall look at this problem in baseball was an excellent idea," Hardin said in a statement. "But I respectfully suggest it is very unfair to include Roger's name in this report. He is left with no meaningful way to combat what he strongly contends are totally false allegations. He has not been charged with anything, he will not be charged with anything and yet he is being tried in the court of public opinion with no recourse. That is totally wrong.
"There has never been one shred of tangible evidence that he ever used these substances and yet he is being slandered today,'' said Hardin, who called McNamee a "troubled man."
Clemens and Pettitte are from the Houston area and spent three seasons together with their hometown Astros. Tejada was traded to Houston on Wednesday.
The report was unlikely to trigger a wave of discipline. While a few players, such as Bonds, are subjects of ongoing legal proceedings, many of the instances cited by Mitchell were before drug testing began in 2003.
Mitchell said punishment was inappropriate in all but the most egregious cases, and Selig said decisions on any action would come "swiftly" on a case-by-case basis.
"We have approached these cases by looking at the period of time during which the conduct occurred and what our policy looked like for that point in time," said Rob Manfred, baseball's executive vice president for labor relations.
While the records will surely stand, several stars named in the report could pay the price in Cooperstown, much the way Mark McGwire was kept out of the Hall of Fame this year when his name first appeared on a ballot for enshirement.
Mitchell said the problems didn't develop overnight and there was plenty of blame to go around.
"Everyone involved in baseball over the past two decades -- commissioners, club officials, the players' association and players -- shares to some extent the responsibility for the steroids era," Mitchell said. "There was a collective failure to recognize the problem as it emerged and to deal with it early on."
Mitchell recommended that the drug-testing program be made independent, that a list of the substances players test positive for be listed periodically and that the timing of testing be more unpredictable.
Gagne, Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Troy Glaus, Gary Matthews Jr., Paul Byrd, Jose Guillen, Brian Roberts, Paul Lo Duca and Rick Ankiel were among other current players in the report. Some were linked to human growth hormone, others to steroids. Mitchell did not delve into stimulants.
"The illegal use of performance-enhancing substances poses a serious threat to the integrity of the game," the report said. "Widespread use by players of such substances unfairly disadvantages the honest athletes who refuse to use them and raises questions about the validity of baseball records."
A total of 22 Yankees, past and present, were identified. Players were linked to doping in various ways -- some were identified as users, some as buyers and some were noted for their inclusion in media reports and other investigations.
Jose Canseco, whose 2005 book "Juice'' was cited throughout, was mentioned the most often -- 105 times. Bonds was next at 103. Canseco, who was in New York on Thursday, was denied entrance to Mitchell's news conference.
"According to McNamee, from the time that McNamee injected Clemens with Winstrol through the end of the 1998 season, Clemens' performance showed remarkable improvement," the report said. "During this period of improved performance, Clemens told McNamee that the steroids 'had a pretty good effect' on him."
It was not clear when in 1998 that McNamee claims he began giving Clemens injections, but after going 5-6 through the first two months of that season, Clemens was 15-0 with a 2.29 ERA in 22 starts from June through September.
McNamee also told investigators that "during the middle of the 2000 season, Clemens made it clear that he was ready to use steroids again. During the latter part of the regular season, McNamee injected Clemens in the buttocks four to six times with testosterone from a bottle labeled either Sustanon 250 or Deca-Durabolin."
Former Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski, who was interviewed by Mitchell's team on four occasions, also provided information as part of his plea agreement in a federal steroids case.
Radomski identified a number of former and current players he said he sold steroids and human growth hormone to. Checks and money orders, mailing receipts or shipments, and statements of other witnesses were used to back up Radomski's allegations. Much of this was found in Radomski's seized telephone records.
Radomski pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges that he dealt steroids to players for a decade. He then retreated to his auto-detailing business on Long Island while cooperating with Mitchell. Radomski worked for the Mets as a batboy and then clubhouse attendant for a decade beginning in 1985. He later used the contacts he made while with the Mets to go into business selling steroids and other drugs to ballplayers.
At Radomski's shop Thursday, an athletic-looking man in a black jacket who identified himself as Radomski said he had no comment. "Talk to my lawyer," he said. "This is private property. Please leave."
Radomski is scheduled for sentencing on Feb. 8.
Rafael Palmeiro, who tested positive for steroids, was among the former players named. So were Kevin Brown, Benito Santiago, Lenny Dykstra, Chuck Knoblauch, David Justice, Mo Vaughn, Todd Hundley and Fernando Vina.
George Mitchell bio
• Age: 74
• Former U.S. Senator (D-Maine), May 1980-January 1995
• Chairman, The Walt Disney Co., March 2004-December 2006
• Currently chairman of the Global Board, DLA Piper (law firm)
• Chaired negotiations for Belfast Peace Agreement in Northern Ireland (1998)
• Director, Boston Red Sox
• Head of investigation into past steroid use by MLB players
Vina, who played for five teams and worked as an ESPN baseball analyst in 2007, was mentioned in Mitchell's report as part of interviews with Radomski. According to the report, Radomski met Vina in 1993 while the latter was in the Mets' minor league system. Radomski told Mitchell's investigators that he sold anabolic steroids or HGH to Vina "six to eight times during 2000 to 2005" and the report included three checks from Vina to Radomski reflecting purchases of HGH and steroids.
According to the report, Vina's name, with an address and two telephone numbers, was listed in the address book seized from Radomski's residence by federal agents. Mitchell said Vina did not respond to his invitation for "an opportunity to respond" to the allegations.
"We had no idea, but will talk to him about it," Josh Krulewitz, ESPN vice president of public relations, said of references to Vina in the report. "We aren't going to comment further at this time."
"We identify some of the players who were caught up in this drive to gain a competitive advantage," the report said. "Other investigations will no doubt turn up more names and fill in more details, but that is unlikely to significantly alter the description of baseball's 'steroids era' as set forth in this report."
"The illegal use in baseball of these substances also victimizes the majority of players who don't use them. We heard from many former players who believe it was grossly unfair that the users were gaining an advantage," Mitchell said.
The report also says Pettitte, during his stay on the disabled list from April 21 to June 14, 2002 because of elbow tendonitis, "wanted to speed his recovery and help his team." According to the report, "McNamee traveled to Tampa at Pettitte's request and spent about 10 days assisting Pettitte with his rehabilitation. McNamee recalled that he injected Pettitte with HGH that McNamee obtained from Radomski on two to four occasions. Pettitte paid McNamee for the trip and his expenses; there was no separate payment for the human growth hormone.
"According to McNamee, around the time in 2003 that the BALCO searches became public, Pettitte asked what he should say if a reporter asked Pettitte whether he ever used performance-enhancing substances. McNamee told him he was free to say what he wanted, but that he should not go out of his way to bring it up. McNamee also asked Pettitte not to mention his name. McNamee never discussed these substances with Pettitte again.
"After the 2001 season, Pettitte, like Clemens, continued to use McNamee's services and to serve as a source of income after McNamee was dismissed by the Yankees. In a 2006 article, Pettitte 'acknowledged an ongoing relationship' with McNamee. Pettitte was quoted as having said that he still talked to McNamee about once a week.' "
"I have advised Andy that, as an active player, he should refrain from commenting until we have had an opportunity to speak with his union and other advisors," Pettitte's agent, Randy Hendricks, said in a statement. "At the appropriate time, he will have something to say."
Through a spokesman, the Yankees said they are reviewing the report and would not have any comment.
The Mitchell report took issue with assertions that steroids were not banned before the 2002 collective bargaining agreement.
They had been covered, it said, since management's 1971 drug policy prohibited using any prescription medication without a valid prescription, and were expressly included in Vincent's 1991 drug policy.
"Steroids have been listed as a prohibited substance under the Major League Baseball drug policy since then," the report said, although no player was disciplined for them until the 2002 labor agreement provided for testing.
Mitchell questioned whether players were tipped off about testing. He said a former player, whom he didn't identify, claimed he had been given two weeks' notice of a drug test by Gene Orza, the union's No. 2 official, in September 2004. Orza did not respond to a message seeking comment.
Mitchell is a director of the Red Sox, and some questioned whether that created a conflict, especially because none of their prime players were in the report.
"Judge me by my work," Mitchell said. "You will not find any evidence of bias, special treatment, for the Red Sox or anyone else. That had no effect on this investigation or this report, none whatsoever."
Giambi, under threat of discipline from Selig, was the only current player known to have cooperated with the Mitchell investigation.
"The players' union was largely uncooperative for reasons that I thought were largely understandable," Mitchell said.
Fehr made "no apologies" for the way they represented players.
"Many players are named. Their reputations have been adversely affected, probably forever," he said. "Even if it turns out down the road that they should not have been."
About two hours after the report was released, two congressmen at the forefront of Capitol Hill's involvement in the steroids issue asked Mitchell, Selig and Fehr to testify at a House committee hearing next Tuesday.
California Democrat Henry Waxman and Virginia Republican Tom Davis -- the leaders of the panel that held the March 17, 2005, hearing at which McGwire, Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa testified -- want to know "whether the Mitchell Report's recommendations will be adopted and whether additional measures are needed," they said.
Also, a congressional subcommittee will hold a hearing on Jan. 23 relating to steroid use in professional sports.Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
THE MITCHELL REPORT
The Mitchell report• Mitchell delivers his report | Read it (pdf)
• Players: Who's named in the report
• Recommendations from the report
• Report reaction: What they're saying
• Drugs listed in report | The Dope On Steroids
• Evidence may limit Selig's punishment choices
• Mitchell defends naming stars in report
• Owners praise Selig, support extended tenure
• Seligs hopes to finish review by spring
Clemens news• Reports: New name surfaces in Clemens saga
• Date set for Clemens, McNamee depositions
• McNamee unlikely to get congressional immunity
• Mitchell reportedly tried to contact Clemens twice
• McNamee's attorney defends immunity request
• Source: Clemens hedges on giving deposition
• Report of Clemens abscess raises more questions
• Astros unsure if Clemens to help at camp
• Clemens' accuser meets with federal prosecutors
• Rocket reps: McNamee 'avoiding' being served
• Source: No immunity expected for Clemens
• Laywer: McNamee 'avoiding' being served papers
• Clemens denies steroid use in taped conversation
• Trainer's lawyers alert Congress to second tape
Pettitte news• Pettitte undecided if he'll testify before Congress
• Pettitte gets new lawyer for congressional hearing
• Pettitte admits using HGH in 2002
Grimsley/Radomski documents• Unsealed documents: Radomski | Grimsley
• Federal agent Jeff Novitzky's sworn affidavit
• Watson denies allegations in Grimsley affidavit
• Hearst wants goverment. to explain conduct
Other News• Players, owners try to modify drug agreement
• Fehr: Foreign players deserve equal drug penalties
• Pujols bans TV station that erroneously named him
• MLB establishes drug investigations unit
• Report: Knoblauch ends silence on steroid report
• Kent: Players should undergo blood testing
• Rose investigator says Mitchell undermined report
• Report: Congressional hearing postponed
• MLB to crack down on clubhouse security
• Congressman blasts Selig on steroids policy
• Report: Players may still testify at hearing
• Report: MLB players won't testify for Congress
• Rose says users 'making a mockery' of game
• Selig defends baseball's drug-testing program
• Post-'03 cases face most MLB scrutiny
• Congress calling new hearings on steroids, HGH
• Report: Deal with feds led to McNamee testimony
• Report: Roberts admits one-time steroid use
• Nats prez: Team had no advance copy of report
• Indians' Byrd discusses HGH use with MLB
• Vina admits HGH use, but disputes steroid claims
• MLB's man: Progress in urine test to detect HGH
• O's respond to Mitchell findings
• A-Rod's reply to Canseco: I never doped
• Bush: MLB must take report seriously
• Pujols sets record straight on inaccurate report
• Reliever Donnelly 'sick' over inclusion in report
• Former D-back Cabrera denies using steroids
• Lowell calls for stronger steroid testing
Analysis• Munson: Delay means Congress serious
• Wojciechowski: Rocket's logic fizzles
• Assael: Clemens throws up and in at McNamee
• Munson: Clemens' lawsuit is part propaganda
• Olney: There's one thing Clemens can't change
• Crasnick: A tale of two Rockets on "60 Minutes"
• Neyer: Time to stop behaving like a child
• Bryant: Odds are against Clemens in interview
• Munson Q&A: Clemens, McNamee on the hot seat
• Neyer: Investigate all players
• Wojciechowski: Time for Clemens to speak up
• Neyer: Does HGH enhance performance?
• Hill: Pettitte's apology was a joke
• Stark: Pettitte no different than Pats' Harrison
• Stark: Clemens, Bonds tales similar, yet different
• Bryant: Selig must address steroids era records
• Santangelo admits HGH use; will 'face the music'
• Helyar: Not good for short-term business
• Fish: Baseball's steroids crisis management
• Crasnick: Clemens' Hall of Fame chances?
• Gammons: Drug culture quite slimy
• Hall of Fame voters speak out on Clemens
• Stark: Indelible impact on the game
• Wojciechowski: Thaw needed in cold war
• Bryant: Mitchell report flat without feds
• Fainaru-Wada: Report sheds light on Bonds
• Crasnick: Recently acquired players named
• The man behind Clemens, Pettitte bombshells
• Munson: Legal challenges troublesome
• Fish: Congress reacts quickly to report
• Helyar: Anti-doping experts don't agree on report
• Nelson: Fehr, MLBPA kept in dark on report
• Neyer: Non-surprising names
• Neyer: Scout's telling take on Gagne
Video• Complete coverage
Audio• David Justice on The Herd
• Best of Mike & Mike, on report's fallout
• PTI discussion over report's release
• Michael Kay Show
• ESPN.com's Keith Law
SportsNation• SportsNation reacts to Mitchell report
• What do you think of it?
• Fan blogs: How fans are reacting
More• Mitchell investigation timeline
• Kirk Radomski timeline
• List of suspended MLB players