Source: 8 fail for unbanned substances

Updated: February 11, 2009, 8:24 PM ET news services

Some of the 104 players listed as having positive drug tests in documents seized by the federal government in 2004 did not test positive for substances on baseball's banned list at that time, a highly placed Major League Baseball source has told ESPN.

At least eight players, the source said, had results from their 2003 drug tests that were consistent with then-available over the counter supplements not banned by baseball until 2005.

Monday, Alex Rodriguez, who admitted to using performance-enhancing substances from 2001-03 in an interview with ESPN's Peter Gammons, said that Gene Orza, the chief operating officer of Major League Baseball Players' Association, had told players on list that he was uncertain whether they had tested positive for a banned substance.

"Gene was very specific in 2004," Rodriguez said in the interview. "We had a meeting in September or August. Don't quote me on the date. But he said there's a government list, there's 104 players on it. You might or might not have tested positive."

Orza has not responded to phone calls or emails, seeking clarification of what exactly players were told.

The tests were part of an agreement between Major League Baseball and its Players Association as part of a 2003 survey that eventually led to baseball's current drug testing program. They were confiscated in a government raid in 2004.

Donald Fehr, executive director of the MLBPA, declined comment on Wednesday report.

However, he told ESPN on Tuesday that, while not present during the conversation between Rodriguez and Orza, "what we knew is that their names were on a list and, as I said, it could be because the government thought they tested positive, it could be that they wanted information for some other reason, it could be because there was a mistake. All we knew is that they were on a list."

The Players Association negotiated with federal prosecutors in San Francisco until the following spring and pledged not to destroy the records. The union moved in April to quash the subpoena, and federal investigators obtained a search warrant and seized records from Comprehensive Drug Testing and samples from Quest Diagnostics.

Although the search warrant sought records of 10 players, the government found a spreadsheet with a list of 104 players who had tested positive; it then obtained additional search warrants and seized all records. The case has been in the courts ever since.

Information from's Jerry Crasnick and The Associated Press was used in this report.