Life could be very interesting for about 104 former and current MLB players. Word comes from ESPN that the federal investigators in the BALCO/Barry Bonds perjury trial may be interested in talking all 104 players who tested positive in the 2003 pre-comprehensive testing policy 'steroid urine screens'. (Actually the New York Times broke the story with the source)
Tucked away inside the United States attorney’s office in the Northern District of California are documents that link more than 100 major league baseball players to positive tests for steroids conducted in 2003...
According to a lawyer who spoke on condition of anonymity because the government’s plans are supposed to remain confidential, federal authorities will seek to question each of the 104 players about where and how they obtained the substance detected in their urine samples.
The authorities then intend to distribute the information they receive to federal prosecutors around the country.
Remember all the Fed-MLBPA fighting about the release and use of the information from the 2003 MLB preliminary steroid tests? The MLB tested players for PED use. If 5% percent tested positive, then the MLBPA and the MLB would institute PED controls. That data was gathered by federal investigators, leading to a court battle of the use of the files obtained from testing labs. The feds won the use of positive player results through several court proceedings.
The tone of the investigation and trial should send some chills through the MLB rank and file, perhaps more trepidation than generated by the Mitchell Report; the Gov't has the power of prosecution:
Distributors, not users, have been the focus of the government’s investigations into performance-enhancing drugs ever since the authorities began seriously looking into the issue in 2002. But the 104 players would be asked to provide testimony — to federal agents or before grand juries — to lead investigators to the distributors. The players’ identities could become public if their testimony is used in government documents to obtain search warrants or to charge individuals. The players could also be called as witnesses at trials.
Regardless of how many of the 104 names eventually become public, the notion of simultaneous drug investigations being conducted by various federal attorney’s offices around the country would be a significant setback to Major League Baseball, which has struggled to get control of the issues related to performance-enhancing drugs.
A very full and comprehensive history of the MLB testing, the Gov't raids, and the court proceedings with analysis can be found on the NY Times website.
One wonders how far this investigation would have gone if Barry Bonds simply admitted to PED use in the original BALCO trial; the entire episode might have stopped right there.