Mitchell's report all about names

NEW YORK -- It's easy to predict much of what George Mitchell will say: Baseball ignored performance-enhancing drugs for more than a decade, and his investigation repeatedly was slowed by the players' union.

NEW YORK -- It's easy to predict much of what George Mitchell will say: Baseball ignored performance-enhancing drugs for more than a decade, and his investigation repeatedly was slowed by the players' union.

The names Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Jason Giambi are sure to be included in the report, which could be released Thursday, from Mitchell's 20-month probe of steroid use in baseball. To what extent, that's harder to guess.

Mitchell's big news is likely to be what additional names are linked to allegations of drug possession and use, and details documenting the accusations that he's gathered. That baseball had a culture in which the use of performance-enhancing drugs was permitted is not groundbreaking.

Hired by Bud Selig in March 2006, Mitchell probably will say all sides in baseball, not just the commissioner, allowed the sport's pharmacology problem to get out of control.

"I think the report will conclude that owners and Selig were not doing anything particularly reprehensible," former commissioner Fay Vincent said Monday. "They didn't know enough. There may have been benign neglect, but nothing more than that."


Mitchell has been given help and documents from Kirk Radomski, the former New York Mets clubhouse attendant who was required to cooperate with the investigation under the terms of his federal agreement last April. Radomski pleaded guilty to illegally distributing steroids, human growth hormone, amphetamines and other drugs to players.

With his cooperation, Mitchell could reveal the blacked-out names contained in the sworn statements of IRS Special Agent Jeff Novitzky attributing statements to Radomski and to former major league pitcher Jason Grimsley. Novitzky has been a key figure in the BALCO investigation that led to the indictment of Bonds on perjury and obstruction of justice charges.

Mitchell also is believed to have received information from the Albany district attorney, who has been investigating a nationwide drug distribution ring. Radomski and the Albany DA are thought to be Mitchell's best sources for tying players to drug use.

And Jose Canseco, whose 2005 book implicated McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez and Ivan Rodriguez, has said he spoke with Mitchell.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and especially in the aftermath of the 1994-95 strike, economics, not drugs, most concerned baseball.

Players and owners didn't have a drug agreement between October 1985, an era when drugs of abuse were considered to be more of a problem, and 2002, when a new agreement began that called for survey testing the following year. The survey showed more than 5 percent of tests were positive for steroids, triggering testing with penalties in 2004. Under pressure from Congress, baseball toughened the penalties for the 2005 season and again for 2006.

Vincent issued his own drug policy in 1991, but the enforceability of its unilateral rules was unclear.

"My guess is that the report will be somewhat critical of the union for being very difficult during the 1990s," Vincent said.


During Mitchell's probe, most players refused to grant access to medical records he requested, according to several of their lawyers and agents. Mitchell was able to get some nonprotected evidence from teams. He likely will be able to document how players' cap and uniform sizes increased.

McGwire and Bonds figure to attract Mitchell's focus, but it would be difficult for Selig to discipline any player for conduct before Sept. 30, 2002, when the drug rules went into force. Players could be penalized, however, for what they've done since, as Kansas City's Jose Guillen and Baltimore's Jay Gibbons were last week, when Selig suspended the pair for the first 15 days of next season.

Gibbons accepted his penalty, but the union filed a grievance for Guillen.

Will any allegations from Mitchell stick? Too early to tell.

Before the 1986 season, Keith Hernandez, Dave Parker, Lonnie Smith and Joaquin Andujar were among those penalized by commissioner Peter Ueberroth following the Pittsburgh drug trials. Any stigma has since dissipated.

"I don't think there will be any recommendations about anything with McGwire, (Sammy) Sosa, Palmeiro. I think baseball and Mitchell will let those chips fall where they may," Vincent said. "I think on Bonds baseball will just sit by and see what the criminal process does."

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