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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Medical Records for Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Fernando Tatis, Among 'Dozens' Sought By Mitchell Investigators

The New York Times is reporting that the Mitchell investigation into Steroids in baseball have sought the medical records for “dozens” of current and former Major League Baseball players.

The report specifically deals with a request sent to the Baltimore Orioles. A baseball source with direct knowledge of the request told the Times that Mitchell had sought records from former Orioles, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Jason Grimsley, David Segui and Fernando Tatis. A similar report from the New York Daily News also included Jerry Hairston Jr., who reportedly ordered human growth hormone from Applied Pharmacy Services in 2004 according to Sports Illustrated.

These are the first names to be specifically associated with the year-old Mitchell investigation into steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.

MLB teams had initially refused to hand over medical records, so Mitchell, lacking subpoena power, asked players directly to authorize the medical records’ release. The Times, citing both the anonymous official and others briefed on the case, said teams would be required to show the medical records to the given player, at which time the player would decide whether or not to authorize their release. The sources also said that the request to teams to authorize the mediacal records’ release was sent in the last “few weeks”.

At first thought it doesn’t seem likely that players would authorize the Mitchell Investigators to view their records, but now that these players’ names have been leaked to the media, they have at least some incentive to go along with the investigation to either clear their name, or at least to not appear as though they are not cooperating because they have something to hide. The players know that a lack of cooperation will be perceived as an indirect admission of guilt whether this is fair or not.

The Times’ sources also said the full list included players expected and unexpected, and that it excluded some players who might have been expected to be on the list of steroid suspects.

“The Orioles, for instance, were not asked to release medical records to Miguel Tejada, Jay Gibbons and Brian Roberts, the official said. Those players had been implicated by news-media reports describing a statement by Grimsley and, in Tejada’s case, by Palmeiro, who said Tejada had given him an injection that might have contained steroids. The official, who was granted anonymity because baseball officials have been ordered not to talk about the Mitchell investigation, said their exclusion showed a lack of evidence against those three players, who are all on Baltimore’s active roster.”

In turn, the lack of evidence on Tejada, Gibbons, and Roberts seems to imply that there is likely significant evidence to warrant the request for Sosa, Palmeiro, and Tatis’ records (Grimsley and Segui have admitted using performance-enhancing drugs).

It appears from this story that the Mitchell investigation is focusing on the Baltimore Orioles but that is not likely. It is expected that all teams will have or have had requests made for records. The San Francisco Giants (BALCO) and Oakland Athletics (Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Jason Giambi... etc.) seem like candidates for extra scrutiny.

Mitchell released a statement May 8, 2007 in which he said:

“While it is our practice not to comment on the investigation, any suggestion that the investigation is focused on any single team is incorrect.”

All players mentioned in the story were either unreachable or declined comment.

 
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