Canseco says MLB facing bigger issue

Updated: July 30, 2009, 8:12 PM ET
By Pedro Gomez | ESPN.com

Jose Canseco, whose 2005 book arguably started the cascade of revelations and an investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, barely raised an eyebrow when he was told David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez are reportedly on the list of 104 players who tested positive in 2003.

"When you tell me something I didn't already know, I'll be surprised," Canseco told ESPN. "And I'll tell you this, Major League Baseball is going to have a big, big problem on their hands when they find out they have a Hall of Famer who's used."

When asked to name who that Hall of Fame player is, Canseco refused to divulge who he believes it is.

[MLB] created this mess because they couldn't control the list of 104 ... This list was supposed to be confidential. We're seeing that, like Watergate, the cover-up always blows up in your face.

-- Jose Canseco

"It's not about naming names," he said. "I've never had anything against the players. It's always been against Major League Baseball. I know who's on that list, but like I said, it's not about attacking the players. It's about the machine that allowed this to happen. What I speak out of my mouth is the truth. It burns like fire. Just remember, I have never lied about this subject."

In Canseco's book, "Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'roids and Smash Hits and How Baseball Got Big," he detailed what he called the game's rampant use of performance-enhancing drugs. He was initially vilified, but most of his allegations subsequently have proved to be true.

At the time, in 2005, Canseco said he believed 80 percent of big league players were using some substance to enhance their statistics. He since has amended that number.

"If you were in the game in the last 20 years, there's a 95 percent chance you were knowingly using something,'' Canseco said. "I said 80 percent back then because that was the number of players that I knew were on. But that number was greater.''

Canseco, whose career spanned 17 seasons and included 462 home runs, said Major League Baseball could be staring at a far greater problem than just the list of 104 players potentially being released.

"If the players turn on Major League Baseball, it's going to get far worse and ugly," he said. "They created this mess because they couldn't control the list of 104. Baseball could be looking at a major class-action lawsuit if the players decide to band together. This list was supposed to be confidential. We're seeing that, like Watergate, the cover-up always blows up in your face. It may take five, 10, 15 years, but the forensic files always seem to surface. Again, tell me if I've ever lied when it comes to this?"

ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson said Canseco's claim of a class-action lawsuit is probably baseless on several fronts.

"One reason is that the government is involved," Munson said. "The FBI and the IRS came into those labs and took those samples and the scorecards to tell who was who on the list. If the players sued the players' union and Major League Baseball, those two would say it wasn't them, it was the government.

"Could they get a lawyer to file a case? Without a doubt. But I don't see it as a really strong case. It's an interesting idea, but it would probably be dismissed quickly."

Pedro Gomez is a reporter for ESPN.

ESPN's Pedro Gomez covered the Oakland A's home and away nearly every day from 1992-97 for the San Jose Mercury News and Sacramento Bee and then became the national baseball writer and later a general columnist at the Arizona Republic before becoming an ESPN bureau reporter in 2003.