Congress wants more steroids investigation


At a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in the same room where Palmeiro, Mark McGwire and others testified three years ago, congressmen mixed criticism of baseball and its players with praise for commissioner Bud Selig and union head Donald Fehr for progress in the sport's drug-testing program.

"The illegal use of steroids and performance-enhancing drugs was pervasive for more than a decade, Major League Baseball was slow and ineffective in responding to the scandal, and the use of human growth hormone has been rising," said committee chairman Henry Waxman, a California Democrat.

"The Mitchell Report also makes it clear that everyone in baseball is responsible: the owners, the commissioner, the union and the players."

Lawmakers said they wanted to hear about further changes that could be on the way, including recommendations in the report by former Senate majority leader George Mitchell.

To that end, Selig vowed in his prepared statement to develop a program "to require top prospects for the major league draft to submit to drug testing before the (amateur) draft."

"I want to be clear that I agree with the conclusions reached by Senator Mitchell in his report, including his criticisms of Baseball, the union and our players," Selig said.

Said ranking minority member Tom Davis, a Virginia Republican who chaired the 2005 hearing: "Our work here is definitely not done. ... But as a panelist at our last baseball hearing famously said, 'We're not here to talk about the past.' ... Going forward, what will the leaders of baseball do to implement the recommendations outlined in this report?"

After standing and raising his right hand to be sworn in, former Sen. Mitchell outlined his inquiry in broad strokes, concluding: "Now it's up to the commissioner, the clubs, and the players to decide how they will proceed."

Echoing Davis' sentiment, Mitchell told the lawmakers, "Being chained to the past is not helpful. Baseball does not need and cannot afford to engage in a never-ending search for the name of every player who ever used performance-enhancing substances."

His report connected more than 80 players to allegations about performance-enhancing drugs. The name that stood out was that of star pitcher Roger Clemens, who is scheduled to testify to the same committee Feb. 13, along with former teammate Andy Pettitte, and their former trainer, Brian McNamee. It was McNamee who told Mitchell that he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone, charges Clemens has repeatedly denied.

Clemens' lawyer met with committee staffers Monday to begin discussing under what format the seven-time Cy Young Award winner might answer questions before testifying under oath next month. The committee wants the witnesses to take depositions.

At the 2005 hearing, Palmeiro said under oath, "I have never used steroids, period." He was suspended by baseball later that year after testing positive for a steroid.

When the committee looked into whether Palmeiro should face perjury charges, it spoke to Tejada, who at the time was a Baltimore Orioles teammate of Palmeiro's. Palmeiro said his positive test must have resulted from a B-12 vitamin injection given to him by Tejada.

"Tejada told the committee that he never used illegal performance-enhancing drugs and that he had no knowledge of other players using or even talking about steroids," Waxman said. "Well, the Mitchell Report, however, directly contradicts key elements of Mr. Tejada's testimony."

Copyright © 2024 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.