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Mitchell Report on deck

Former senator to reveal findings

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / December 12, 2007

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When 2 o'clock Wednesday afternoon rolls around, and results of the long-awaited Mitchell Report are released in New York, the names of players who were found to have used performance-enhancing drugs stand to be the sexiest part.

But interest also lies in any potential solutions arrived at by former Senator George Mitchell and his team of lawyers, as well as where Mitchell's group will place blame for the scandal that has rocked baseball in recent years.

The Associated Press, citing two sources with knowledge of the report, said it reveals a "serious drug culture within baseball, from top to bottom" and is divided into two parts: one that will name players, including All-Stars and MVPs, who used illegal drugs, and one that will focus on suggestions for the future, including enhanced year-round testing. The AP also reported that one of its sources indicated blame would be assigned to both the commissioner's office and the players' union.

The Washington Post, citing sources who had been briefed on the report but had not seen it, said it will show drug use is more prevalent among pitchers - including some Cy Young Award winners - than position players.

Baseball's performance-enhancing drug use has come to the forefront of the sport with the uncovering of the BALCO case and the Albany, N.Y., district attorney's investigation into a steroid distribution ring that involved internet pharmacies.

But perhaps the biggest break for Mitchell's 20-month investigation was the plea deal reached by former Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski. After being ar rested on charges of distributing steroids, Radomski agreed to help Mitchell. Most current players, meanwhile, balked at speaking to Mitchell during an investigation that will yield a document of more than 300 pages.

Whether there will be a Red Sox connection remains to be seen, and is itself a controversial aspect of the decision to have Mitchell head the investigation. Mitchell has been listed by the Sox as a director under the current ownership, a connection that has come under fire from some corners since he was asked to take on the project in March 2006.

But the names, of course, will be the focus. According to ESPN.com and the AP, as many as 80 active and former major leaguers could be named in the report, which was reviewed by Major League Baseball earlier this week. Those could include Jeremy Giambi, Jose Canseco, and Paxton Crawford, former Red Sox who have admitted using performance-enhancing drugs.

Mitchell had difficulty getting current players to cooperate, with the Yankees' Jason Giambi the only active player known to have spoken with him, though he did so under the threat of discipline from commissioner Bud Selig.

"I would imagine that there will be a significantly large chunk of name players [in the report], and that upper-level management in Major League Baseball will get a lot of the blame," Sox pitcher Curt Schilling said on WEEI Wednesday. "I think there will be more than one [big name revealed]. Just on the names that I've heard, I think there will be more than one."

The investigation relied on interviews with club employees, trainers, and others who might have had knowledge of the scandal. The investigation seized computers belonging to Red Sox personnel in January, as well as similar equipment from other teams, and spoke to traveling secretary Jack McCormick in the first week of July regarding former bat boy Carlos Cowart, who was arrested in 2000 while driving Sox player Manny Alexander's car. The car was found to have steroids and syringes.

"This one, I wouldn't be surprised," Schilling said, of whether some of his Red Sox teammates could be named in the report. "I hope not, but after [Indians pitcher] Paul Byrd and all the stuff that happened there, I think I'm kind of past being shocked at anybody."

This past season, a number of names came out, because of BALCO and the Albany investigation. The biggest-name players linked to performance-enhancing drugs in recent years include Barry Bonds, who was indicted on charges of perjury relating to his federal grand jury testimony, Mark McGwire, Ken Caminiti, Rafael Palmeiro (who tested positive for steroids), and Jason Giambi. Byrd was implicated on the day his team played Game 7 of the American League Championship Series, and the names of Rick Ankiel, Jay Gibbons, Jose Guillen, Troy Glaus, and Gary Matthews Jr. also have surfaced. Gibbons and Guillen have been suspended for the first 15 days of next season.

"Just on the stuff that I heard," Schilling said, "this is going to resonate pretty loudly for a while."

Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin@globe.com.

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