Mitchell report: Illegal drug use "widespread"
By Ari Burack
December 13, 2007
Citing "widespread illegal use" of performance-enhancing
drugs in Major League Baseball, former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell
today released the results of his 20-month investigation in a
report that named several high-profile players, including pitchers
Roger Clemens and Andy Pettite and former Oakland Athletics shortstop
Though he did identify more than 80 former and current players
"who were caught up in the drive to gain a competitive advantage,"
Mitchell stressed that each of the league's 30 teams have had
players who at some point were swept up in baseball's "steroids
"For more than a decade there has been widespread illegal
use of anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing substances
by players in Major League Baseball, in violation of federal law
and baseball policy," Mitchell wrote in the 409-page report.
Mitchell described the league's initial response to the problem
as "slow to develop" and "initially ineffective,"
adding that since the league adopted mandatory drug testing in
2002, detectable steroid use has declined, though human growth
hormone use has risen, he said.
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig named Mitchell as an independent
investigator in March 2006, prompted by the ongoing investigation
of former San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds and other players'
involvement with the Burlingame-based Bay Area Laboratory Co Operative,
Bonds, baseball's all-time home run leader, was indicted Nov.
15 on four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice
for allegedly lying when he told a federal grand jury in 2003
that he never knowingly received steroids or human growth hormone
from his trainer, Greg Anderson.
Bonds is not criminally charged with taking performance-enhancing
drugs but rather with failing to tell the truth during the federal
Bonds pleaded not guilty to the charges Dec. 7. Mitchell's report
said Clemens, a seven time Cy Young Award winner who pitched for
the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees and Houston
Astros, was given steroids by a strength and conditioning coach
for the Blue Jays, who later gave him steroids and human growth
hormone when both were members of the Yankees.
Pettite, a former All Star who played for the Yankees and the
Astros, was given human growth hormone by the same coach, who
was his personal trainer in 2002 while Pettite pitched for the
Yankees, the report said.
According to Mitchell, former A's outfielder Adam Piatt in 2003
provided Tejada with steroids and human growth hormone, though
whether Tejada actually used the substances is unknown.
Tejada, who played shortstop for the A's from 1997 to 2003 and
was named the American League's Most Valuable Player in 2002,
was traded from the Baltimore Orioles to the Houston Astros on
Clemens, Pettite and Tejada were offered the chance to respond
to the allegations, but they declined to meet with him, Mitchell
"Baseball needs to do more to effectively address this problem,"
Mitchell concluded in the report.
He called for the league to more closely investigate allegations
of performance enhancing drug use outside of its testing program
and to tighten its procedures for keeping the drugs out of clubhouses.
Additionally, Mitchell asked for more effective education programs
for players about the health risks of performance enhancing drugs.
Finally, Mitchell asked team owners and the Players Association
to update the league's drug policy into a "state-of-the-art
program" at the groups' next collective bargaining meeting
on the issue.
A local U.S. congressman today issued a response to the report.
"Senator Mitchell's report indicates a pervasive and profoundly
disappointing culture of illegal drug use in Major League Baseball,"
said U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo/San Francisco.
"There appears to be easy access to performance-enhancing
drugs in this league, and their wide acceptance creates an abhorrent
stain on America's pastime," Lantos said.
After the U.S. Congress' 2005 hearings on steroids in baseball,
"another round of hearings may be called for if Commissioner
Selig fails to act quickly and decisively," Lantos added.
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