Even with baseball's drug-testing program up and running, selling steroids to major leaguers was still profitable enough for Kirk Radomski to put in a pool behind his Long Island house and a pair of pricey cars on the driveway. While those expenses barely amounted to more than walking-around money for most of his customers, real cops learned long ago that sometimes the best way to build a big case is to start small.
Neighbors thought Radomski was some kind of athletic trainer, and one of them told the New York Times that grown-ups and children alike referred to him as the Hulk. The feds, though, already suspected Radomski as the supplier of performance-enhancing drugs to dozens of current and former players when they showed up at his door in December, 2005 with a search warrant.
Last Friday, the 37-year-old former Mets clubhouse attendant pleaded guilty to felony distribution and money laundering charges and agreed to testify before a grand jury, if needed, and before baseball's own steroids investigation panel, headed by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, when summoned.
``We look forward,'' Mitchell said in a statement, ``to working together with federal law enforcement toward our shared goal.''
While their goal might be shared, most of the work necessary to clean up baseball has fallen disproportionately so far to prosecutors and Congress. The much-ballyhooed and already-revised testing program has caught less than two dozen cheats since the owners and players finally got around to implementing a real drug policy in September, 2002, and in truth, baseball would be satisfied if the number had been zero.
Co., got into this mess in the first place. And if they can just sit tight for a little while longer, doing nothing might get them out of it, too.
distribution networks that may be providing performance-enhancers to thousands.
Officials on the drug-enforcement side of sports have been begging for that kind of help for years, reasoning that no agency this side of the federal government have the power and resources to cut into the advantage that well-heeled cheats and their suppliers take for granted.
It's worth remembering that when the first wave of names associated with the BALCO scandal was heavily layered with track and field athletes, former U.S. sprinter Jon Drummond's first thought was how dirty the pros in other sports must be. He correctly reasoned that even the richest Olympian didn't make one-quarter of what a big-league slugger or big-time running back makes. So not only was there presumably less incentive to cheat; they had less to spend on chemists, trainers and even lawyers.
Time, unfortunately, has proved him right. Not long after BALCO was taken down by the feds, Radomski stepped into the void, parlaying contacts he made working in the Mets clubhouse and relying on word-of-mouth to set up a business of his own. It now appears likely, given the timing, the drugs distributed and even the names given to investigators by both men, that Radomski may have provided the information that led to Grimsley's arrest.
There's no indication that the higher-ups in baseball knew any of the investigations were ongoing, or that the sleuthing by Mitchell's investigators has turned up an accurate assessment of how widespread the use of performance-enhancing drugs remains. In fairness, they don't have the tools to do the job, but even more troubling after all this time, there are still questions about whether they have the will.
We'll know more, and soon, as Congress continues to threaten more hearings and legislation to address the problem and Barry Bonds closes in on the most-treasured number in the game - Henry Aaron's 755 career home runs.
In the meantime, Selig refuses to say whether he'll be in attendance once Bonds climbs within striking distance, perhaps still clinging to the hope that someone else will take responsibility for the cleanup before he has to. It may not sound like much of a plan, but it's already worked once this season.
Remember all those die-hard fans, almost a quarter-million strong, who complained they were being shut out when MLB signed a deal with DirecTV to air its ``Extra Innings'' package exclusively on the satellite network?
Turns out they'll still be able to follow all the latest developments in the game they love. All they'll have to do is switch over to Court TV or C-Span.
---
Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitkeap.org

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