The New York Daily News carries an interview with ex-Senator George Mitchell, marking the one year anniversary of the now famous Mitchell Report, documenting the use of anabolic steroids, and human growth hormone in major league baseball.
In the interview Mitchell discusses the formation of an independent Doping division in MLB, which probably sits as the most important recommendation of his report. That office is up and budgeted.
Other interesting comments occur about the MLB PA, which refused to cooperate with the investigation (frankly an error because the players have much to gain from doping control) and the accusations that Mitchell, as a co-owner of the Boston Red Sox, paid more attention to the hated Yankee juicers.
It's been nearly a year since that cold and rainy day when former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell released his long-anticipated report on steroids and Major League Baseball during a standing-room only news conference at the Grand Hyatt New York, and the impact of the 409-page document continues to ripple through baseball. Seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, identified by his former trainer Brian McNamee as a steroid user, was the biggest star named in the report, and his claims that he was falsely accused at February's congressional hearing on the Mitchell Report resulted in a perjury investigation that could land the greatest pitcher of his generation in prison.
Mitchell would not talk about Clemens or Barry Bonds, who has been indicted on perjury and obstruction of justice charges, because he did not want to comment on pending criminal cases. But he was happy to talk about another ramification of the Mitchell Report that has gotten less attention but may be more important: Major League Baseball and its Players Association, he says, have taken serious steps to strengthen the game's drug policy and turn back baseball's worst scandal since the 1919 Black Sox. Mitchell did several interviews last week in anticipation of his report's anniversary.
Here is what he said to the Daily News:
DN: What are your thoughts regarding your report nearly a year after its release?
GM: I think Commissioner (Bud) Selig deserves credit for calling for an independent investigation, for promising me independence and for keeping his promise.
I think Major League Baseball and the Players Association have responded affirmatively to the report and the many recommendations I made, and they have taken significant steps to improve the approach to the problem. Among the most significant actions was a decision to provide for an annual review. In the report we stressed that one of the real issues is that it is a dynamic problem, changing all the time, with new drugs being developed. Under their prior approach, they were required to bargain only in connection with the collective bargaining agreement, which was every five or six years. They didn't adopt everything I recommended 100% but moved very strongly in that direction. I would say I'm pleased with the result.
We include the more important components of the Mitchell INterview after the jump.
DN: You have said you were very pleased with the creation of MLB's department of investigations.
GM: Yes, one of the weaknesses our investigation discovered was in the approach taken when there were allegations of illegal use. We devised a set of recommendations that culminated in the creation of the department of investigations. They've given it a very healthy budget...
DN: Is there a recommendation you made that you wish baseball would be more aggressive in implementing?
GM: They really did everything, except if you look on page 303 of our report; we recommended the independent administrator have full authority. We specifically said this is up to collective bargaining and we did not lay out a single exclusive mechanism for doing it. They could have gone further in granting independence to the independent administrator...
DN: Can you talk about your arrangement with the Justice Department that resulted in McNamee's cooperation with you?
GM: That is a subject that is currently part of the civil litigation (Clemens' defamation suit against McNamee) and therefore I can't comment...
DN: Have you heard from players since Dec. 13, 2007, who have commented on the report?
GM: No, but I've had several reporters say to me that they've talked to players and they say it is good this thing got done. I argued in a letter to every single player, in my report and publicly, that among the victims of this unfortunate situation are the players who don't use these drugs. They were put in a very unfortunate situation, forced into the truly awful choice of either illegally using drugs or being forced to compete at a disadvantage.
DN: A lot of players named in the report have ties to the Yankees, and there has been a lot of talk about the report's anti-Yankee bias. What do you say to people who say that?
GM: There was no bias in the report. We reported what we learned. I said many times I was certain there were other users and other dealers whose names we never had. Had we had them, we would have published them. I also said in the body of the report that players who played at one time for all the 30 clubs were identified.
DN: Jose Canseco claims you and your staff never interviewed him, never contacted him. Is that true?
GM: The allegation that he made that we did not meet with him is not true. On July 11, 2006, in Fullerton, California, Charlie Scheeler interviewed him in the presence of his attorney for two-and-a-half hours.
It doesn't get more specific than July 11, 2006, at 1:30 in the afternoon in Fullerton, California, does it?