A far-reaching investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball has implicated some of the sport's most famous athletes, including Roger Clemens of the New York Yankees and Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants. Victoria Cavaliere reports from VOA's New York Bureau that the report says widespread abuse of steroids has cast a cloud over one of the most popular U.S. sports.
Former U.S. Senate majority leader George Mitchell led the 20-month independent probe into the use of performance-enhancing drugs, like steroids, in baseball. The substances build muscles and endurance more quickly than otherwise possible.
The report culminated a 20-month investigation by Mitchell, who was hired by Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to examine steroids in the game.
Issuing his report Thursday, Mitchell spread blame for the proliferation of steroids among players, club officials and past baseball commissioners.
It said the illegal drug use touched all 30 major league teams.
"For more than a decade there has been widespread illegal use of anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing substances by players in Major League Baseball in violation of federal law and baseball policy," Mitchell said.
Baseball fans were anxiously awaiting the report, which names dozens of former and current players. Those identified include superstars like Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Eric Gagne, and David Justice. Barry Bonds, who holds the current home-run world record, pleaded not guilty last week to charges he lied to federal investigators about using performance-enhancing drugs.
Mitchell urged Selig to hold off on punishing players in the report except in cases where the conduct is so serious that discipline is necessary to maintain the integrity of the game.
Instead, the Mitchell report issues a series of recommendations, including year-round, unannounced steroid testing for baseball. He also called for improved education programs to deter use.
"It is now time to look to the future," said Mitchell. "To get on with important and difficult task that lies ahead. Everyone in Major League Baseball should join in a cooperative and sustained effort to bring the era of steroids and human growth hormone to an end and to prevent a recurrence in some other form in the future.
Mitchell had no subpoena power during his investigation, and he said almost all of the active players he sought to interview turned him down.
His findings were based on the review of thousands of documents and interviews with witnesses, baseball employees and others close to the game.