The following is a live blog of the press conference announcing the steroid investigation. For my analysis of the anouncement and the investigation, please click here.
I’m watching Bud Selig’s press conference. He is talking about former Senator George Mitchell’s upcoming investigation into steroid use in Major League Baseball. As many of us following the sport feared, it will be a largely toothless investigation.
Playing off of the BALCO case as well as Game of Shadows, Selig is ordering Mitchell and his team to investigate illegal steroid use since the Collective Bargaining agreement went into place in 2002. This is no witch hunt for Barry Bonds and others who may have been juicing throughout the 1990s.
Rather, this is Selig trying to rectify and correct the loopholes from the original bargaining agreement. What will happen when Mitchell’s paper trail and interviews turn up THG or hGH use among baseball players? Who knows?
As Mitchell is saying right now, “Our mission is together facts not conjecture.” He wants to give everyone “a fair opportunity to be heard.” At the same time, Mitchell will have carte blanche to conduct his investigation.
Mitchell is requesting full cooperation for his investigation, but I’m sure he’ll counter a lot of opposition within clubhouses to his questioning.
On to the Q and A…
The questioners just asked Mitchell about his ties to the Red Sox. The Senator says he will investigate the Red Sox as he would any team.
Selig is now facing a question about his resignation. Should he resign, asked one of the reporters, and Selig is criticizing revisionist historians. He is, as Howard Bryant’s book made clear, promoting his testing programs. He is proclaiming the success of the program and the Minor League tests in place for the past six years.
Bud is now answering questions about the timing of the investigation. A reporter noted that the material was the same as that published in the Chronicle articles about BALCO. Selig says this information is much more specific.
Mitchell is being asked as a fan about steroids in baseball. “It is a serious issue that needs to be confronted,” he said. That’s not very groundbreaking.
Another reporter just asked if it would be better to focus on the future rather than trying to clean up something that’s already happened. Selig is avoiding the question while taking about a UCLA program baseball is funding for steroid testing development and hGH awareness. “We will continue to stay ahead of the curve,” he says.
Selig says the information collected by Senator Mitchell will be public. Unlike the original rounds of testing in 2002, this information will be public. Is it a witch hunt to out people or an attempt to clean up the sport?
Last question: Will there be a celebration of Barry Bonds as he approaches Ruth and Aaron? Interestingly, Selig is non-committal here. He says that he will come to that when the time arrives. I guess they will wait to see what Mitchell’s findings are.
That’s it for the press conference. I’ll analyze this later.
Update 4:20 p.m.: Let me clarify one point that I didn’t pick up on during the press conference: Mitchell is authorized to investigate steroid use from 2002 to the present. If he finds evidence supporting illegal drug use, he can extend his investigation backwards in time. Here’s what Selig said:
“I have asked Senator Mitchell to attempt to determine, as a factual matter, whether any Major League players associated with BALCO 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. The goal is to determine facts, not engage in supposition, speculation, rumor or innuendo.
“It may be that conduct before the effective date of the 2002 Basic Agreement will prove helpful in reaching the necessary factual determinations and, if the Senator so concludes, he will investigate such earlier conduct as well. Indeed, should Senator Mitchell uncover material suggesting that the scope of the investigation needs to be broader, he has my permission to expand the investigation and to follow the evidence wherever it may lead.”