|AP NewsBreak: Union rebuffs Mitchell on anonymous medical records|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 10 May 2007 14:45|
Mitchell's staff, which has been investigating steroids in baseball for more than a year, has been seeking medical records for several months.
The union has not agreed to a request for anonymous records because players fear Mitchell's staff would use information in them - such as age, height, weight and blood type - to connect the records to specific players, the lawyers said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to publicly discuss the talks.
During several meetings in March and April, the union agreed to a process under which teams would give players their own medical records and players could decide individually whether to release them to Mitchell.
New York Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina, a senior member of the union, predicted players wouldn't disclose medical records to the Mitchell probe.
``Aren't all people's medical records private?'' he said Thursday. ``They're probably wasting their time.''
Michael Weiner, the union's general counsel, didn't wish to comment on medical records. Management executive vice president Rob Manfred didn't return a telephone call seeking comment.
Asked about several topics, Mitchell issued a statement Thursday but didn't address medical records.
``We have gathered tens of thousands of pages of documents and conducted hundreds of interviews of individuals with current or past connections to professional baseball, including many former players,'' Mitchell said.
Mitchell has not been able to get medical records directly from teams because of federal and state privacy laws.
``It would only bother me if they get them, I suppose,'' Mussina said. ``I really haven't thought much about it. Obviously, they're not asking for mine, most likely.''
Former Baltimore Orioles Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, David Segui and Fernando Tatis are among those who records were sought, The New York Times reported Wednesday. Mitchell's staff also wants information from Jerry Hairston Jr., another former Orioles player, the (New York) Daily News reported.
Sosa and Hairston have denied using performance-enhancing drugs.
``Since the investigation has not been completed, it would not be appropriate to comment on what findings or recommendations might be included in the report, or on players who might be discussed,'' Mitchell said.
Mitchell asked the union in a March 28 letter to interview current players. Lawyers from his staff, the union and the commissioner's office met last month to discuss his request, but the union has not agreed to interviews.
``This is one of the final phases of the investigation and, obviously, will be significant, especially since, as I have previously said, the principal victims of the illegal use of performance-enhancing substances by some players are the majority of players who don't use them,'' Mitchell said. ``We expect to meet soon with the players whose interviews we have requested. To the extent that we are not able to, we will deal with the issue at that time.''
Mitchell hopes to gain information from prosecutors involved in the case of Kirk Radomski, a former New York Mets clubhouse employee who last month pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in San Francisco to felony charges of distributing steroids and laundering money.
``With regard to the recent plea agreement of Kirk Radomski, I have stated that we look forward to working with federal law enforcement toward our shared goal of dealing effectively with illegal performance-enhancing drug use in baseball. Our work in that regard is only one aspect of the broader effort in this investigation,'' Mitchell said. ``Other work remains, but I hope and expect that I will be able to complete the investigation in the coming months. No one wants to finish this investigation more than I do, and I am committed to completing the remaining work and to issuing the report as soon as possible.''