Batboy key to report
Batboy key to report
Batboy key to report
Breakthrough for Mitchell
Former Senator George Mitchell's report on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball relied heavily on the confessions of a former Mets batboy who was required to cooperate with investigators as a part of his plea bargain in a steroid-dealing case.
Mitchell, retained 21 months ago by Commissioner Bud Selig to probe baseball's so-called Steroid Era, was scheduled to make his report public today at a New York news conference. The Chronicle confirmed that the report would identify approximately 60 to 80 active and retired major-league players as users of steroids, human growth hormone and other banned drugs.
Selig ordered the probe in response to former Giants star Barry Bonds' involvement in the BALCO scandal. Federal prosecutors from the BALCO case made their witnesses off limits to Mitchell, a source familiar with the matter said. Nevertheless, The Chronicle confirmed, Mitchell's report will address alleged steroid use by Bonds. Bonds, who told a federal grand jury in the BALCO investigation that he didn't knowingly use banned drugs, is awaiting trial on perjury charges.
Mitchell's report, more than 300 pages in length, was also expected to propose a series of reforms to control the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. The Washington Post, quoting sources briefed on the investigation, said Mitchell would recommend turning baseball's entire drug-testing program over to an outside agency.
A source familiar with the matter said Mitchell had obtained significant new information about drug use in the game from Kirk Radomski, 38, who met with Mitchell's investigators this year. Radomski is a former Mets batboy and clubhouse attendant who for years dealt performance-enhancing drugs to baseball players, court records show.
Before Radomski was ordered to cooperate, Mitchell had complained that he was having trouble finding witnesses for his report.
"Mitchell was hamstrung 20 different ways," said Marc L. Mukasey, a criminal-defense specialist and former prosecutor in New York who has followed the investigation. "He had no subpoena powers, he faces very serious labor law issues and, as I understand it, there wasn't a line of players beating down the doors to help him out."
In a Dec. 13, 2005, federal affidavit to search his Long Island home, Radomski was described as "a major drug source in professional baseball who took over after the BALCO laboratories were taken down."
IRS Agent Jeff Novitzky, who also was lead investigator on the BALCO case, quoted an informant as saying that "if a professional baseball player was currently using performance-enhancing drugs including human growth hormone ... then the player would likely be getting it from Kirk Radomski."
Radomski worked for the Mets from 1985 until 1995, then became a personal trainer. With longtime Mets clubhouse attendant Vinny Greco, he operated a Long Island car wash called Pro Touch Detail, records show.
In February 2005, an informant told the FBI that Radomski was selling steroids to baseball players, court records show. At the time, former big-league slugger Jose Canseco's confessional memoir about steroids in baseball had just been published.
During 2005, undercover agents made several steroids buys from Radomski, the government said. Then federal agents raided Radomski's home on Long Island, seizing "thousands of doses of numerous types of anabolic steroids," the government said. The agents also seized vials of human growth hormone, insulin, clenbuterol (an asthma drug with muscle-building properties), and Clomid (a masking agent), court records show.
Facing a possible 25-year prison sentence, Radomski in April pleaded guilty to steroid dealing in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. He is still awaiting sentencing.
As part of his plea agreement, Radomski was ordered to provide information to Mitchell's investigators, court records show. In their probe, federal agents had obtained Radomski's client list, along with bank records showing as many as 23 "MLB associated individuals" who wrote checks to Radomski's account and a list of "current and former MLB players" whose numbers appeared in his phone records.
Baseball's powerful players union advised members not to talk to Mitchell without a lawyer present, lest they face discipline or prosecution for things they might admit. As a result, almost all refused to talk to Mitchell, with the lone known exception being the Yankees' Jason Giambi, who had told the BALCO grand jury he used drugs obtained from Greg Anderson, Bonds' personal trainer.
George Mitchell's report is to be released at 11 a.m. today. Mitchell will have a news conference at 11 a.m., Commissioner Bud Selig at 1:30 p.m. and the players' union at 3 p.m. Some ways you can keep up with the news:
SFGate.com: Background and breaking news, plus reaction, Ray Ratto's column and links to report.
MLB.com: Live coverage of Mitchell's news conference, text of report.
ESPN, ESPNews: "SportsCenter Special" from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. ESPNews will also cover players' union news conference.
XM Satellite Radio: Sportscasters will read report aloud on XM channel 176 when it is available.