Statement Of Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig
“Nothing is more important to me than the integrity of the game of baseball. For a substantial period of time, there has been significant public speculation concerning allegations that a number of Major League players were associated with the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (BALCO) and used steroids and other illegal performance enhancing drugs. That speculation was originally fueled by the testimony of players before a federal grand jury investigating BALCO and by an alleged relationship between certain players and BALCO defendant, Greg Anderson. A recent book has amplified the allegations and raises ethical issues that must be confronted head-on.
“Under Article II of the Major League Constitution, the Commissioner has broad authority to investigate matters “not in the best interests of the national game of Baseball ….” As a practical matter, however, an investigation of the illegal use of performance enhancing substances by a player or players is an extraordinarily difficult undertaking. The use of performance enhancing substances can be (and usually is) accomplished surreptitiously. Arbitrators have been reluctant to allow compelled, potentially self-incriminating testimony and, unlike governmental law enforcement officials, Major League Baseball lacks the authority to grant immunity. The investigatory authority of Major League Baseball, therefore, is particularly limited when the allegations relate to conduct that can create or has created a risk of criminal prosecution for the player. Major League Baseball is also aware of its obligation to avoid interference with an on-going grand jury proceeding or criminal investigation.
“Until this point, I have primarily focused my efforts on trying to eliminate the use of performance enhancing substances from the game. My concerns about the allegations of steroid use among Major League and Minor League players were first and foremost for the health of the players and for the integrity of the game on the field. In 1994, before anybody was really talking about steroids in baseball, we proposed a program of testing for such substances to the MLBPA. As early as 1998, I began formulating a strategic plan to eliminate the use of performance enhancing substances from the game. After consultation with doctors and medical experts, we unilaterally imposed a strict drug testing regimen in the Minor Leagues in 2001. We lobbied vigorously in Congress for the passage of the Steroid Control Act of 2004. We developed and deployed educational programs for minor league players. And, at the Major League level, we achieved the toughest drug policy in professional sports through a series of negotiations with the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA). I am proud of the “three strikes and you’re out” policy that we negotiated with the MLBPA. Our joint program gives fans confidence in the integrity of the game on the field.
“Nonetheless, the unique circumstances surrounding BALCO and the evidence revealed in a recently published book have convinced me that Major League Baseball must undertake an investigation of the allegations that players associated with BALCO have used illegal performance enhancing substances. I have asked Senator George Mitchell, the chairman of the law firm DLA Piper, to conduct the investigation. He will be assisted by members of his firm, including Charles Scheeler, a former federal prosecutor, as well as by Jeffrey Collins, a former United States Attorney and now a partner in the Detroit office of Foley & Lardner, and Thomas Carlucci, a former Assistant United States Attorney and now a partner in the San Francisco office of the same law firm.
“Senator Mitchell has had extensive investigative experience. As a United States Attorney, he personally led numerous criminal investigations. At the request of the United States Olympic Committee, he led an investigation into allegations of improprieties in the selection of Salt Lake City as the site of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. His recommendations were adopted in their entirety by the USOC and as a result the International Olympic Committee altered the process for the selection of host cities for both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games. In addition, at the request of the President of the United States, the Prime Minister of Israel and the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Senator Mitchell chaired an international fact-finding committee on violence in the Middle East. The committee’s report, widely known as The Mitchell Report, was endorsed by the Bush Administration, the European Union and many other governments.
“Senator Mitchell also brings an impeccable reputation for integrity to this task. He has served the public as the United States Senate Majority Leader, and as a federal judge and United States Attorney. In 1996, at the request of the governments of Ireland and the United Kingdom, Senator Mitchell chaired peace negotiations in Northern Ireland which resulted in an accord that ended decades of conflict. Senator Mitchell also served as the independent overseer of the Red Cross Liberty Disaster Fund, following allegations of improprieties in the distribution of more than $1 billion to victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
“Senator Mitchell’s leadership of this investigation ensures that it will be both thorough and fair. I have asked Senator Mitchell to attempt to determine, as a factual matter, whether any Major League players associated with BALCO or otherwise used steroids or other illegal performance enhancing substances at any point after the substances were banned by the 2002 – 2006 collective bargaining agreement. The goal is to determine facts, not engage in supposition, speculation, rumor or innuendo.
“It may be that conduct before the effective date of the 2002 Basic Agreement will prove helpful in reaching the necessary factual determinations and, if the Senator so concludes, he will investigate such earlier conduct as well. Indeed, should Senator Mitchell uncover material suggesting that the scope of the investigation needs to be broader, he has my permission to expand the investigation and to follow the evidence wherever it may lead.
“I am very troubled by the alleged depth of the relationship between certain players and those involved in the illegal distribution of performance enhancing substances. BALCO is arguably the most notorious distributor of anabolic steroids in the history of American sports and a number of players were customers or endorsers of that entity and its products. Greg Anderson, a BALCO defendant, pled guilty to a charge of conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids in July, 2005. Mr. Anderson was a personal trainer to at least one player and was allegedly acquainted with others.
“ Baseball is America’s pastime because of the trust placed in this sport by its fans. As I said last year when we were able to implement our new, tough steroid policy, this is a matter of integrity. When it comes to the integrity of this game, an impartial, thorough review is called for and Baseball must confront its problems head on. I am confident that Baseball’s millions of fans will agree that this great game can move forward with pride and honor as we also investigate those who might be implicated in these matters.”