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Baseball Report to Reveal Steroid Use

Some of Major League Baseball's prominent active and former players will be linked to the use of banned performance-enhancing drugs. They will be named in a 300-page report based on former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell's investigation on doping in baseball.

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Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Some of Major League Baseball's most prominent players will be linked to the use of banned performance-enhancing drugs. According to several news sources, the players are named in the Mitchell Report. That report will be released at an afternoon news conference today in New York. Former Senate majority leader George Mitchell has been investigating doping in baseball for nearly 21 months.

Joining us now to talk about this is NPR sports correspondent, Tom Goldman. And good morning, Tom.

TOM GOLDMAN: Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: This is a long investigation, a lot of secrecy, a lot of anticipation and speculation surrounding this report. Leaks appear to be starting though.

GOLDMAN: That's right. George Mitchell has a 2 p.m. Eastern Time press conference to announce his findings. But baseball officials have had the report for a couple of days and people are talking. The Associated Press, The New York Times, ESPN.com, all have advance information from unnamed sources.

And here are some of the major points they're all reporting. As you mentioned already, prominent players, including all-stars, most valuable players, Cy Young award winners. That's the top award for pitchers. Those high-level names are among in estimated 60 to 80 Major League players who will be linked to banned drugs. None of the sources named names beforehand so we're going to wait to find out who these people are.

The Mitchell Report is about 300 pages long. It's reportedly very thorough. And it blames both the commissioner's office and the players' union for tolerating a serious and widespread drug culture in Major League Baseball.

MONTAGNE: Although it was the commissioner who appointed George Mitchell, Senator Mitchell, to do this investigation, so he's not - he's tough still on the commissioner.

GOLDMAN: Well, that's a good point. And people have pointed out that there may be a conflict of interest because George Mitchell, not only is a director of the Boston Red Sox, but he's had ties to Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig in the past. He's worked for him before. So this was going to be the proof. And if, in fact, as the sources are reporting, that, you know, he comes down hard on the commissioner's office then that should be proof that he wasn't partial.

MONTAGNE: The report did have its limitations. George Mitchell didn't have subpoena power.

GOLDMAN: That's right. And without that, he often found it very hard to get people to talk, particularly, players. The players' union was not cooperative during this process. And it's believed only one active player talked to Mitchell and his investigators. That was Jason Giambi of the New York Yankees. And he only did that because of pressure from Commissioner Bud Selig. And sources say Mitchell warns that because information was often hard to come by, it's unlikely the report will put the steroid issue to rest once and for all.

MONTAGNE: And, Tom, of the 60 to 80 players who are said to be named in the report, what's likely to happen to them?

GOLDMAN: As far as punishing them, that's a real gray area. If a player used banned drugs before 2003 when testing began, it'll be hard to suspend them. If players used after that, they may be treated like two players were last week, Baltimore's Jay Gibbons and Jose Guillen of the Kansas City Royals. They were suspended 15 days at the start of next season because they reportedly were linked to that Albany investigation.

But before the commissioner suspends anyone, he'll have to make sure there's compelling evidence: a positive drug test, documents, receipts. So certainly not all of the 60 to 80 will be sanctioned.

MONTAGNE: And then, of course, the future is of concerned to fans and those who are interested in baseball. Does the report deal with how to deal with the drug problem?

GOLDMAN: Well, it does. In general, the - Mitchell reportedly recommends improving drug testing. He says they should add more year-round test and limit the chances for players to avoid detection. Baseball still has some pretty big loopholes like a one-day advance notice to teams that drug testing is going to happen. For it to be effective like Olympic sports, there has to be the element of surprise, unannounced testing. And Mitchell seems to be moving toward that. Also, he reportedly wants testing done by a truly outside independent agency. Right now, Major League Baseball and the players' union jointly run the program.

MONTAGNE: Tom, thanks very much.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome.

MONTAGNE: NPR's Tom Goldman. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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