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Mitchell Blames Players, Management in Baseball Steroid Investigation

A report released Thursday by former Sen. George Mitchell on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in pro baseball named many of the game's top athletes and cited both players and management for allowing the abuse. Sen. Mitchell discusses the 20-month investigation.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Now, George Mitchell and baseball's steroids scandal. Jeffrey Brown begins with some background on today's official report.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    In a strongly worded, 400-plus page report, former Senator George Mitchell laid out a decade-long pattern of use of performance-enhancing drugs by Major League Baseball players and a failure to respond by owners and officials.

    FMR. SEN. GEORGE MITCHELL (D), Maine: The evidence we uncovered indicates that this has not been an isolated problem involving just a few players or a few clubs. Many players were involved. Each of the 30 clubs has had players who have been involved with such substances at some time in their careers.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Among the 80-plus players named are some stars of the game, including Yankees pitchers Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte; the 2002 American League Most Valuable Player, shortstop Miguel Tejada, recently traded from Baltimore to Houston; Detroit Tigers and former New York Yankees slugger Gary Sheffield; and Barry Bonds, the seven-time National League MVP and holder of the career homerun record, which he broke four months ago.

  • BARRY BONDS, Major League Baseball Player:

    This record is not tainted at all.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Bonds' name has become synonymous with the issue. He is currently under federal indictment for lying about his use of performance-enhancing drugs before a grand jury.

    Mitchell also said there was widespread use of human growth hormone, which cannot be tested for presently.

    The report relied heavily on several sources of information, including Kirk Radomski, a former clubhouse assistant and batboy for the New York Mets. Radomski cooperated with the probe after pleading guilty to federal charges of distributing illegal steroids.

    Mitchell made a series of recommendations, including having the drug-testing regimen strengthened, making it a year-round and random program, and having it conducted by a truly independent agent.

    Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig said late today that the report was fair, if painful.

  • BUD SELIG, Commissioner, Major League Baseball:

    His report is a call to action, and I will act. I will continue to deal with the issue of performance-enhancing substance abuse.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Selig has come under fire for lack of action throughout what became known as the steroids era in baseball, the record-shattering 1990s and early 2000s, the era of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa's homerun derbies, and the juiced baseball.

  • BUD SELIG:

    Baseball is America's pastime because of the trust placed in this sport by its fans. I'm proud to say baseball has never been more popular. I'm proud to say that our attendance continues to break records year after year, and our fans continue to love the game.

    But our fans deserve a game that is played on a level playing field, where all who compete do so fairly. So long as there may be potential cheaters, we will always have to monitor our programs and constantly update them to catch those who think they can get away with breaking baseball's rules.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    The Major League Baseball players union was also harshly criticized in today's report. The group's executive director, Donald Fehr, spoke late today at a separate news conference.

  • DONALD FEHR, Executive Director, Major League Baseball Players Association:

    We haven't had an opportunity to review and study the report in any detail whatsoever, so for now we can only say the following: Many players are named. Their reputations have been adversely affected, probably forever, even if it turns out down the road that they should not have been.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    The report advises against disciplining active players for past use of performance-enhancers unless otherwise deemed necessary by the commissioner to, quote, "maintain the integrity of the game."