NEW YORK – The Mitchell 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 Wednesday.
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 Thursday. 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.
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 three months later on charges of lying to a federal grand jury about steroid use.
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.
None of the player names had leaked out Wednesday night.
The rest of the report, the sources said, will focus 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.
The report also is 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.
Mitchell, a Boston Red Sox director, planned to release his report at 2 p.m. Thursday at a news conference in New York City.
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig will hold his own news conference 21/2 hours later.
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 has been charged.
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.