Selig hopes to complete review of Mitchell report by spring

Updated: January 17, 2008, 1:23 AM ET
Associated Press

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Baseball commissioner Bud Selig hopes to complete his review of players and executives mentioned in the Mitchell report by the start of spring training in mid-February.

One day after testifying before Congress, Selig spoke to owners at the start of a two-day meeting. He did not say whether he would discipline San Francisco Giants officials for failing to report concerns about Barry Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson.

"All he did was reiterate that he needs to review the individual players and the clubs and is going to try to do that as expeditiously as possible, and before spring training if at all possible," said Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer.

Rob Manfred, MLB's executive vice president for labor relations briefed owners on the recommendations in the Mitchell report that have already been adopted unilaterally by management.

"I think everybody's getting tired of dealing with this stuff and having to debate it and so on and so forth," Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt said. "The fans deserve a clean game, and let's get there and let's look forward instead of just dwelling on the past."

The owners met as the World Anti-Doping Agency and Major League Baseball exchanged barbs over whether the sport is resisting independent drug testing.

"There was a discussion, as you would expect, of the Mitchell Report and of the commissioner's stellar performance yesterday before Congress and the reaction of Congress, [and] where we are with our discussions with the union," DuPuy said.

WADA's new president severely criticized baseball on Wednesday, saying the sport was resisting the recommendation by former Senate majority leader George Mitchell to transfer drug testing to an independent body.

New WADA boss John Fahey blistered the sport for loopholes in its drug-testing program and heightened tension between MLB and the drug body.

"Professional baseball's response to Sen. Mitchell's report is baffling," Fahey said in a statement. "To suggest that it might continue to keep its anti-doping testing program in-house ... is demeaning to Sen. Mitchell and the congressional committees who view doping as a serious threat to public health."

Baseball fired right back with its own statement.

"These continuing, unprovoked, inaccurate publicity stunts by WADA have created an unwillingness to become more involved with WADA and its affiliates," Manfred said. "We were hopeful that false public statements by WADA would end with its recent change in leadership, and we are deeply disappointed that Mr. Fahey is showing the same counterproductive tendencies as his predecessor."

Since its inception in 2002, MLB's drug program has been run by a joint management-player committee. After prodding from Congress, a jointly picked independent administrator was added for the 2006 season but the administrator can be removed at any time by either party.

"Senator Mitchell said that he believed that a drug-testing program, to be effective, had to be operated independently," DuPuy said. "And he made some suggestions with regard to our current program, and how current program, which we believe is independent, could be made even more independent.

"That's the track we are headed down at this point in time, although that obviously has to be negotiated with the union," DuPuy said. "We can't do that unilaterally."

Owners will back Selig's decisions.

"There are some things that you've got to yank it out of the closet and get it out, but there's also a situation where you draw some lines and move forward, and I think that's where we are," Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno said.

Also Wednesday, DuPuy said baseball officials will meet in the next few days with county and city authorities in South Florida about a proposed ballpark for the Florida Marlins.

"There remain obstacles to completing the transaction," DuPuy said. "But as I explained to the executive council, I believe there is a willingness by all parties to get the deal done, and all parties are working very hard to get the deal done."

Miami-Dade County commissioners last month approved a public works project that includes a new 37,000-seat retractable-roof stadium. The ballpark would be built on the site of the Orange Bowl. The agreement also includes a performing arts center, port tunnel project and soccer stadium.

The project calls for a 37,000-seat retractable-roof stadium. According to a revised county proposal, the stadium would be funded, in part, by hotel bed tax dollars and a large, upfront contribution from the Marlins.

DuPuy said there would be "modest rules changes" announced when the meetings conclude on Thursday, but he said instant replay was not discussed.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press