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Thursday, December 13, 2007

After all that, this is what the fuss was about? Let’s take a deep breath and consider this Report by George Mitchell which ESPN headlined “Culture Shock.” A few facts would be nice.

First, despite what Mitchell says, baseball had no policy or regulation expressly banning steroids until September 2002, did not have testing with penalties until 2004 and did not ban HGH until 2005. Should Mark McGwire, for example, be vilified for taking androstenedione, a supplement that produced testosterone, when it could have been bought at the time over the counter by anyone and, of course, did not violate MLB rules?

Second, Mitchell did not test anyone, relied mostly on the word of New York Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski and hearsay from anonymous sources, and yet accused dozens of players by name of taking or using these drugs. Can you imagine any other professional endeavor or class of individuals subjected to such treatment? It is one thing if a player tests positive under rules he knows about and quite another to accept the unsworn testimony of a clubhouse staffer no one had the opportunity to cross examine.

Third, does anyone believe any player has made it to the major leagues who would not have if he had not taken such substances or that anyone is not in the professional ranks because he chose to abstain? Would Bonds have been passed over for any of his MVP awards without Balco’s products; would ARod have hit in the playoffs if he had used them?

Fourth, while the multi-million dollar Report provided a few big names such as Clemens, Pettitte and Tejada, most of the names were fairly mediocre players no longer in baseball. What good did it do to sully the reputation and integrity of these guys? What a low class shot for Mitchell and his law firm to take at athletes who played a few years, made a few bucks, and retired. Can we survey the associates at DLA Piper and see whether they have ever taken performance enhancing drugs to stay up for an all nighter or to party into the night?

Why does the public and the media continue to impose standards and rules on professional and college athletes no one else would stand for?

The hypocrisy is deafening.

Between innings, we listen to advertisements selling drugs to help us sleep, be less depressed, concentrate in school, have better sex, and degrunge our toe nails.

Colleges make millions off the sweat and hard work of their athletes in an archaic system that makes the Confederacy look like the beacon of free enterprise, all on the overstated promise that if they improve their performance they have a good shot at making millions themselves.

And now we are to be shocked and up in arms that a small minority of professional baseball players may have used artificial means to perform better.


Great points, Alan. I did get a chuckle with the plug for DLA Piper in his opening remarks. Do we see any possible defamation or false light claims here?

Anonymous Tim Epstein -- 12/13/2007 7:14 PM  

I also laughed when Senator Mitchell's plugged his white-shoe law firm. I laughed harder at Alan's lines about DLA Piper associates. Here in Pittsburgh, our newspaper is prominently listing the seven current or former Pirates named in the report on the Post-Gazette home page ( Is there _any_ story that could justify seven Pirates leading off the Pittsburgh news tonight?

Great blog entry -- keep up the good work!

Anonymous RepeatandFade -- 12/13/2007 7:15 PM  

I don't see what's wrong with finding an individual guilty based solely on anonymous, biased testimony without offering the accused the chance to face (and cross examine)his accuser - It happens all time these military tribunals.

Anonymous George W. Bush -- 12/13/2007 7:15 PM, the official mouthpiece of major league baseball, has extracted the player names from the 400 page document and included them in a list at a separate link.

This way the media doesn't have to actually read the report or recommendations. They get what they really want for a sexy story

Blogger ChapelHeel -- 12/13/2007 7:46 PM  

This whole report is part of a right-wing-conspiracy. Bill is right, it depends on what is is.

Anonymous Hillary Clinton -- 12/13/2007 9:22 PM  

Time Magazine's Sean Gregory raises some great questions regarding Mitchell's report:,8599,1694552,00.html. He also probes what I think is the most important question of all (and I have previously posted on it) -- whether Selig can legally suspend anybody on the basis of non-positive test evidence contained in Mitchell's report.

Also, it has been reported that Congress has asked Mitchell, Fehr and Selig to testify at a hearing next Tuesday.

Blogger Rick Karcher -- 12/13/2007 11:15 PM  

I am likewise underwhelmed.

You're the Sports Law Blogger. I wish you would post on the legality of some of these PEDs.

As you allude to, androstenedione was sold as a food supplement in health stores. It was made illegal in the Anabolic Steroid Act of 2004.The designer steroid at the center of the BALCO scandal, THG, was only banned in the same Act. Anabolic steriods in general were legal until 1990. It was the Anabolic Steroid Act of 1990 which prompted Fay Vincent's infamous memo. (Yep, the original steroid beneficiaries, the Bash Brothers in Oakland, were perfectly legal and not in violation of MLB rules.)

Anonymous Anonymous -- 12/14/2007 3:40 AM  

i totally agree that this report was much ado about nothing. i could have prepared the same report reading old newspaper articles in less time and for less money than mitchell's law firm received. it's funny how mitchell, connected to the red sox, spends a lot of time trying to embarras the biggest enemy of red sox nation- roger clemens. it was also wrong to out marginal players who retired years ago. for what purpose? baseball should be ashamed of itself, not for the steroids issue but for how much time and money was spent on a report that said nothing.

Blogger john jones -- 12/14/2007 9:12 AM  

Good points Alan, I agree with most of you said in this post.

I've been hearing alot about the "leaked" report that was reported on Ch 4 (NBC new york I believe). They were talking about it on the radio stations in tampa this morning and I've seen alot of blogging activity on it. Has anyone seen a credible source as to what happened here? Apparently their "leaked" report which they disclosed well before the actual report was presented included the names of some big time players that were not mentioned in the actual report, including Albert Pujols.

Any thoughts on liability here? It seems to me they should be held accountable for "outing" players as steroid users when they in fact were not even part of the mitchel report (which is based on little evidence on ots own).

Blogger Jimmy H -- 12/14/2007 9:38 AM  

Liability is tough when public figures are involved. It is amazing to look at the media reports the day after, most continuing the hype that Mitchell and DLA Piper have unearthed startling revelations. All of three players tested positive last year, none of them stars. To hold more hearings on this issue is absurd, particularly when Congress continues to ignore issues such as the NCAA's exploitation of amateur athletes.
Alan Milstein

Anonymous Alan Milstein -- 12/14/2007 10:20 AM  

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