Yahoo! news: 12/13/2007

13 12 2007

STEROIDS!  I’m trying hard not to judge, but cheating isn’t cool.  😦

By RONALD BLUM, AP Baseball Writer 6 minutes ago

NEW YORK – Judgment day arrived for baseball’s steroids era, with the Mitchell report set to be released and posted on the Internet for all to see. The first name to emerge Thursday was seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens.

ESPN.com reported that Brian McNamee, a former trainer for the Yankees and Clemens, said information he gave Mitchell on supplying the pitcher with steroids is in the report. The Web site, citing an unidentified source close to the trainer, said McNamee told investigators he supplied Clemens with steroids.

Randy Hendricks, Clemens’ agent, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Mitchell’s report exposes a “serious drug culture within baseball, from top to bottom,” fingers MVPs and All-Stars and calls for beefed-up testing by an outside agency to clean up the game, The Associated Press learned.

The report by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell will include names of 60 to 80 players linked to performance-enhancing substances and plenty more information that exposes “deep problems” afflicting the sport, one of two sources with knowledge of the findings told the AP. Both sources said the report would not address amphetamines.

The two sources were familiar with discussions that led to the final draft but did not want to be identified because it was confidential until its scheduled release. They said the full report, which they had not read, totaled 304 pages plus exhibits.

One person familiar with the final version would only speak anonymously but described it as “a very thorough treatment of the subject” and said some aspects were surprising. He said the report assigns blame to both the commissioner’s office and the players’ union.

MLB’s “not going to love it, the union’s not going to love it,” he said.

One source said that while the report will cite problems “top to bottom,” it also will expose “deep problems, the number of players, high-level MVPs and All-Stars,” as well as clubhouse personnel who allowed steroids and other banned substances in clubhouses or knew about it and didn’t say anything.

The rest of the report, the sources said, focuses on recommendations that include enhanced year-round testing and hiring a drug-testing company that uses the highest standards of independence and transparency. Baseball’s program currently is overseen by a joint management-union Health Policy Advisory Committee, with an independent administrator approved by both sides.

Mitchell, a Boston Red Sox director, planned to release his report at 2 p.m. Thursday during a news conference in New York City. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig was to hold his own news conference a few blocks away 2 1/2 hours later.

The report comes at the end of a year when San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds broke the career home run record, only to be indicted 100 days later on charges of lying to a federal grand jury about steroid use.

It also was expected to recommend that baseball develop a credible program to handle cases with evidence of athletes receiving or taking drugs but not testing positive for them.

Just last week, Kansas City‘s Jose Guillen and Baltimore‘s Jay Gibbons were suspended for the first 15 days of next season, and media reports said they had obtained human growth hormone in 2005, after baseball banned it.

Much of the first part of the report will be based on evidence obtained from former New York Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski, and from information gleaned from the Albany district attorney’s investigation into illegal drug distribution that focused on Signature Pharmacy of Orlando, Fla., the sources said.

Radomski was required to cooperate with the investigation as a condition of his federal plea agreement last April. Radomski pleaded guilty to illegally distributing steroids, HGH, amphetamines and other drugs to players and is awaiting sentencing. Some professional athletes have been linked to the Signature probe, though none have been charged.

On Thursday morning at Radomski’s Long Island, N.Y.-based business, Pro Touch Detail Center, a man who identified himself as Radomski told The Associated Press: “I have no comment. Talk to my lawyer. This is private property. Please leave.”

Rob Manfred, baseball’s executive vice president of labor relations, reviewed at least part of the report this week to ensure no confidential information from the drug-testing program was disclosed, a person with knowledge of the union’s discussion with Mitchell said, also on condition of anonymity.

Despite repeated requests by the players’ association to Mitchell’s law firm, the union had not been allowed to review the report, that person said.

“I certainly hope after 21 months and getting zip by way of cooperation from the players’ association that they’ll come up with some recommendations for improvement,” said World Anti-Doping Agency chairman Dick Pound. “If not, it’s a complete waste of time.”

But he said he’s not sure baseball would follow any recommendations.

“My guess is that the management side probably would, but the players’ association will dig in and continue its steel-town union approach to life,” he said.

Agents have said they expect the report to be highly critical of players and the union for largely refusing to cooperate with Mitchell.

Bob DuPuy, baseball’s chief operating officer, sent an e-mail to owners and team presidents in advance of the report with instructions how to respond to media inquiries.

“We look forward to carefully reading the results of Sen. Mitchell’s investigation,” the recommended response said. “Protecting the integrity of our game is vital, and we intend to study his findings and recommendations, and will not comment until we have done so.”

Baseball did not have an agreement to ban steroids until September 2002, did not have testing with penalties until 2004 and did not ban HGH until 2005, when it also instituted a suspension for a first positive test.

Mitchell was hired by Selig in March 2006 after the publication of “Game of Shadows,” a book by two San Francisco Chronicle reporters about Bonds’ alleged steroid use. The rise in power in the 1990s, which drew national attention when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa chased Roger Maris‘ single-season record in the Great Home Run Race of 1998, was accompanied by a rise in suspicion.

Maris’ record of 61 homers had stood since 1961, but McGwire hit 70 that year and Sosa had 66. During the chase, the AP reported McGwire had used androstenedione, a supplement then available over the counter that produced testosterone.

A bulked-up Bonds then shattered McGwire’s record by hitting 73 homers in 2001.

Source: Yahoo! News

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