|Clemens hit hard in Mitchell Report; Tejada, Bonds and Pettitte also named|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 14 December 2007 06:36|
Count them, 82 times.
Barry Bonds showed up more often. So did Jose Canseco. Andy Pettitte, Eric Gagne and Miguel Tejada also became part of baseball's most infamous lineup since the 1919 Black Sox scandal.
But they didn't get the worst of it Thursday. That infamy belonged to Clemens, the greatest pitcher of his era.
The Steroids Era.
``Those who have illegally used these substances range from players whose major league careers were brief to potential members of the Baseball Hall of Fame,'' former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell wrote in his much-anticipated report on performance-enhancing drugs.
``They include both pitchers and position players, and their backgrounds are as diverse as those of all major league players.''
Seven MVPs, two Cy Young Award winners and 31 All-Stars - one for every position. In all, the 409-page report identified 85 names to differing degrees, putting question marks if not asterisks in the record book and threatening the integrity of the game itself.
``If there are problems, I wanted them revealed,'' commissioner Bud Selig said. ``His report is a call to action, and I will act.''
President Bush, who once owned the Texas Rangers, said Friday he's been ``troubled by the steroid allegations.''
``My hope is that this report is a part of putting the steroid era of baseball behind us,'' said Bush, surrounded by Cabinet members in the Rose Garden.
The Mitchell Report, he said, means ``we can jump to this conclusion: that steroids have sullied the game.''
``The players and the owners must take the Mitchell Report seriously,'' Bush said. ``I'm confident they will.''
On Friday, Mitchell insisted he provided opportunities for the players identified in his report to respond to the allegations.
Almost without exception, he said on CNN's ``American Morning,'' they declined. So Mitchell turned to union head Donald Fehr.
``I wrote a letter to Don Fehr's office setting forth the names and the dates and I wanted to tell them, here is what happened, come in and explain it to me,'' Mitchell said. ``They refused to do so.''
Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi, Troy Glaus, Gary Matthews Jr., Paul Byrd, Jose Guillen, Brian Roberts, Paul Lo Duca and Rick Ankiel were among other current players cited. Some were linked to human growth hormone, others to steroids. Mitchell did not delve into stimulants in his 20-month investigation.
While he vehemently denied it through his lawyer, Clemens was the symbol.
Considered a lock for the Hall of Fame earlier this week, Clemens' path to Cooperstown was thrown in doubt after he was singled out on nearly nine pages.
Seven-time Cy Young Award winner, eighth on the career list with 354 victories, an MVP and All-Star himself, Clemens suddenly had more to worry about than simply whether to play next season.
``It is very unfair to include Roger's name in this report,'' said Clemens' lawyer, Rusty Hardin. ``He is left with no meaningful way to combat what he strongly contends are totally false allegations. He has not been charged with anything, he will not be charged with anything and yet he is being tried in the court of public opinion with no recourse. That is totally wrong.''
Much of the information about Clemens came from former New York Yankees major league strength and conditioning coach Brian McNamee.
According to the report, McNamee also told investigators that ``during the middle of the 2000 season, Clemens made it clear that he was ready to use steroids again. During the latter part of the regular season, McNamee injected Clemens in the buttocks four to six times with testosterone from a bottle labeled either Sustanon 250 or Deca-Durabolin.''
The report was unlikely to trigger a wave of discipline. While a few players, such as Bonds, are subjects of ongoing legal proceedings, many of the instances cited by Mitchell were before drug testing began in 2003.
Mitchell said punishment was inappropriate in all but the most egregious cases, and Selig said decisions on any action would come ``swiftly'' on a case-by-case basis.
Mitchell said the problems didn't develop overnight and there was plenty of blame to go around.
``Everyone involved in baseball over the past two decades - commissioners, club officials, the players' association and players - shares to some extent the responsibility for the Steroids Era,'' Mitchell said. ``There was a collective failure to recognize the problem as it emerged and to deal with it early on.''
Mitchell recommended that the drug-testing program be made independent, that a list of the substances players test positive for be issued periodically and that the timing of testing be more unpredictable.
``The illegal use of performance-enhancing substances poses a serious threat to the integrity of the game,'' the report said. ``Widespread use by players of such substances unfairly disadvantages the honest athletes who refuse to use them and raises questions about the validity of baseball records.''
Canseco, whose book ``Juiced'' was cited throughout, was mentioned the most often - 105 times. Bonds, already under indictment on charges of lying to a federal grand jury about steroids, was next at 103.
A total of 20 Yankees, past and present, were identified. Players were linked to doping in various ways - some were identified as users, some as buyers and some by media reports and other investigations.
Former Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski also provided information as part of his plea agreement in a federal steroids case.
Rafael Palmeiro, who tested positive for steroids, was among the former players named. So were Kevin Brown, Benito Santiago, Lenny Dykstra, Chuck Knoblauch, David Justice, Mo Vaughn, Wally Joyner and Todd Hundley.
Mike Stanton, Scott Schoeneweis, Ron Villone and Jerry Hairston Jr. were among the other current players identified.
``Other investigations will no doubt turn up more names and fill in more details, but that is unlikely to significantly alter the description of baseball's `steroids era' as set forth in this report.''
Mitchell is a director of the Boston Red Sox, and some questioned whether that created a conflict, especially because none of their prime players were in the report.
``Judge me by my work,'' Mitchell said. ``You will not find any evidence of bias, special treatment, for the Red Sox or anyone else. That had no effect on this investigation or this report, none whatsoever.''
Giambi, under threat of discipline from Selig, and Frank Thomas were the only current players known to have cooperated with the Mitchell investigation.
``The players' union was largely uncooperative for reasons that I thought were largely understandable,'' Mitchell said.
Union head Donald Fehr made ``no apologies'' for the way they represented players.
``Many players are named. Their reputations have been adversely affected, probably forever,'' he said. ``Even if it turns out down the road that they should not have been.''
Certainly a lot of people read the names. The report was downloaded 1.8 million times off MLB.com in the first three hours after it was posted.
About two hours after the report was released, two congressmen at the forefront of Capitol Hill's involvement in the steroids issue asked Mitchell, Selig and Fehr to testify at a House committee hearing Tuesday.
California Democrat Henry Waxman and Virginia Republican Tom Davis - the leaders of the panel that held the March 17, 2005, hearing at which Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Palmeiro testified - want to know ``whether the Mitchell Report's recommendations will be adopted and whether additional measures are needed,'' they said.
Also, a Congressional subcommittee will hold a hearing on Jan. 23 relating to steroid use in professional sports.
Associated Press Writers Rachel Cohen and Bill Konigsberg in New York and Howard Fendrich and Deb Riechmann in Washington contributed to this report.