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Mitchell Report

Mitchell Report

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Published by Evan Solomon
Senator George Mitchell's report on steroid users in baseball.
Senator George Mitchell's report on steroid users in baseball.

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Published by: Evan Solomon on Dec 14, 2007
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10/12/2011

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The powers of the Commissioner of Baseball are established by contract. The

Major League Constitution is the governing agreement among the thirty major league clubs,

under which the powers of the Commissioner are enumerated. Article II, section 2 of that

agreement grants the Commissioner the power:

. . . [t]o investigate . . . any act, transaction or practice charged, alleged or
suspected to be not in the best interests of the national game of Baseball,
with authority to summon persons and to order the production of
documents and in case of refusal to appear or produce, impose such
penalties as are hereinafter provided.

The Commissioner also is empowered “ . . . [t]o determine, after investigation, what preventive,

remedial or punitive action is appropriate” against either major league clubs or individuals.14

The Commissioner’s “best interests” powers do not extend “to any matter relating to the process

of collective bargaining” between the clubs and the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Because the Commissioner’s powers are granted by contract, only persons who

are subject to the provisions of that agreement – those employed in Major League Baseball and

affiliated organizations (such as clubs in the affiliated minor leagues) – are subject to the

Commissioner’s powers. Unlike a governmental body, therefore, the Commissioner does not

14

Major League Const., Art. II, §§ 2(b), (c) (2003). The “best interests of baseball”
provision is essentially unchanged from the provision under which the powers were granted to
the first Commissioner of Baseball, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis.See New Major League
Agreement, Art. I, § 2 (1921). For players, the permissible discipline includes temporary or
permanent ineligibility, or a fine. For clubs, permissible penalties include exclusion from major
league meetings, a fine of up to $2 million or denial of certain player selection rights. For club
officials, the Commissioner may levy a fine of up to $500,000. In all cases, the Commissioner
also can take “such other actions as the Commissioner may deem appropriate.” Major League
Const., Art. II, § 3.

2

have the power to compel testimony or the production of relevant evidence from third parties,

including former players.15

Acting pursuant to his enumerated powers, on March 30, 2006, Commissioner

Selig appointed me to conduct an investigation:

. . . to determine, as a factual matter, whether any Major League players
associated with [the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative] or otherwise
used steroids or other illegal performance enhancing substances at any
point after the substances were banned by the 2002-2006 collective
bargaining agreement.16

The Commissioner said that he was prompted to ask me to conduct this investigation by the

publication of the book Game of Shadows, which “amplified” allegations regarding the

relationship between certain players and Greg Anderson, a personal trainer, and with BALCO, an

enterprise whose principals were convicted of supplying illegal steroids and other substances to

professional athletes in a number of sports.17

The Commissioner also acknowledged that conduct “before the effective date of

the 2002 Basic Agreement” could be relevant, and he authorized me, if necessary, “to expand the

investigation and to follow the evidence wherever it may lead.”18

I welcomed this latitude as

necessary to ensure that my findings were reached in the proper context and that I would not be

required to request additional investigative authority from the Commissioner once the

investigation began.19

15

The Players Association is only the bargaining representative for active major league

players.

16

Press Release, Major League Baseball Office of the Commissioner, Statement of
Commissioner Allan H. Selig (Mar. 30, 2006).

17

Id.

18

Id.

19

My investigation did not include an examination of the use of amphetamines by players
in Major League Baseball. The allegedly widespread use of amphetamines in baseball, rumored

3

As stated above, the Commissioner’s authority under the “best interests of

baseball” provision does not apply to any matter “related to the process of collective bargaining.”

In addition, as a party to the collective bargaining agreement between the Players Association

and the thirty major league clubs, the Commissioner is bound by the terms of that agreement. As

will be discussed further below, the subject of drug testing for any substance has been

determined by baseball arbitrators to be a mandatory subject of collective bargaining. Since the

2002 Basic Agreement, the major league clubs and the Players Association have been parties to

Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, which contains detailed

provisions that affect the Commissioner’s ability to act in some instances. Other provisions of

the Basic Agreement also are implicated by an investigation of this nature, including that the

Players Association receive prior notice of any request for an interview of a current major league

player.

for decades, is a problem distinct from more recent allegations that players have used steroids
and other substances with anabolic or similar effects to gain an unfair competitive advantage.
I was asked to examine the latter question, and I am comfortable that a thorough examination did
not require me to look into the additional problems posed by amphetamines use, serious as those
problems might be. Moreover, an expansion of the scope of this investigation to include
amphetamines use inevitably would have increased the already significant time that was needed
to complete this investigation and diluted its focus, which I believe would have hampered
whatever improvements might be achieved as a result of this report.

4

II.

Major League Baseball and Other Sports Must Combat
the Illegal Use of Performance Enhancing Substances

The illicit use of anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing substances

by players in Major League Baseball is a problem that must be addressed, for a number of

reasons. First, steroids, human growth hormone, and similar substances pose significant health

risks to those who use them. This is especially true of illegal users, who often obtain dubious

products (contaminated or otherwise) from black market sources, self-administer these

substances with no medical supervision based on advice gleaned from internet sites and fellow

bodybuilders, and use these substances in amounts that far exceed those that are prescribed by

physicians for legitimate uses.

Second, beyond the dangerous effects on players themselves, the public

perception that players in Major League Baseball use these substances contributes to their use by

young athletes, who in turn cause themselves great physical harm. Adolescents might be at even

greater risk of harm than adult athletes from the use of these substances because the intense

hormonal changes of adolescence can exacerbate their adverse psychiatric side effects.20

Third, the illegal use of anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, and similar

drugs poses a significant threat to the integrity of the game of baseball. The widespread use of

these substances raises questions about the validity of records and their comparability across

different eras. Because such use is in violation of law, professional baseball players who do so

can place themselves in a position of vulnerability to drug dealers who might use their access and

knowledge of violations of law to their own advantage, through threats intended to affect the

outcome of baseball games or otherwise.

20

Restoring Faith in America’s Pastime: Evaluating Major League Baseball’s Efforts to
Eradicate Steroid Use: Hearing Before the H. Comm. on Gov’t Reform
, 109th

Cong. 307 (2005)

(statement of Dr. Kirk Brower).

5

Finally, and very important from my perspective, the illegal use of these

substances by some players is unfair to the majority of players who do not use them. These

players have a right to expect a level playing field where success and advancement to the major

leagues is the result of ability and hard work. They should not be forced to choose between

joining the ranks of those who illegally use these substances or falling short of their ambition to

succeed at the major league level.

A.

Health Risks from Abuse of Steroids and Other
Widely Used Performance Enhancing Substances

Anabolic steroids and human growth hormone can have serious negative effects

on the human body.

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