Sports

Mitchell Report named names, but what else did it accomplish?

When Major League Baseball released the much-anticipated Mitchell Report last Thursday, its results were less than shocking.

Was there anybody left in the United States who read the headlines in every newspaper across the country Friday morning and said, “Wow, baseball players use steroids?”

The 409-page report is the culmination of a 20-month investigation by former Sen. George Mitchell into baseball’s steroids scandal. Mitchell and his investigators conducted over 700 interviews and reviewed 115,000 pages of documents. The report opens by saying, “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.”

Really? Unbelievable. I would have never guessed.

I just thought Barry Bonds’ hat size grew three inches overnight because he joined Oprah’s book club and his brain was expanding. I also thought he developed an extreme case of “backne” after inadvertently rubbing 16 family-sized Hawaiian-style pizzas all over his back.

In my opinion, the only thing the Mitchell Report was good for was naming names and the biggest of those named names was seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens. Clemens, along with Bonds, was among the most well known of the 90 former and active players “outed” on Thursday.

What else will the Mitchell Report accomplish?

Mitchell makes numerous recommendations, including the establishment of a Department of Investigations to look into allegations of performance-enhancing substance possession or use that doesn’t involve a positive drug test. He also calls for changes in the sport’s drug program, which he says should be independent, transparent and provide for year-round, unannounced drug testing.

We’ll see if any of Mitchell’s recommendations actually come true. Any changes in the drug-testing program have to be approved by the Major League Baseball Players Association.

So now all we get to look forward to is the current and former players rolling out their denials that they have never even seen a syringe before and don’t even know how to pronounce anabolic steroids like Winstrol, Sustanon 250 or Deca-Durabolin. Because that’s all we’ve heard for the last decade. Either we are in the midst of the most wide-scale coverup in the history of the world, or these players are lying.

My question is, why can’t one of the players implicated for using performance-enhancing drugs just admit they did it? Just say, “I was wrong for doing it. I was just looking for a leg up. I’m sorry.”

I think that would go a long way in educating everybody about the perils of steroids and other drugs.

So take the denials for what they are worth. You have to judge guys like Clemens and Bonds by the facts. And the mountains of evidence against both guys is piling up like their home runs and strikeouts.

What worries me is the effect all of this is having on kids. The Mitchell Report cited studies that showed between 3 and 6 percent of high school students have used steroids.

“Even the lower figure means that hundreds of thousands of high school-aged young people are still illegally using steroids,” the report said.

Three states — Florida, New Jersey and Texas — already have steroid-testing programs in motion at the high-school level. Washington has no program and no plans on developing one.

“We have really just approached it from an educational standpoint,” Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) executive director Mike Colbrese told me earlier this year. “We try to educate our student-athletes. We have worked with our national federation on videos of steroids and made those available to our member schools. We try to educate our coaches on what they can do.”

Currently, the WIAA can punish student-athletes for violating Washington state laws prohibiting drugs, including anabolic steroids possession, sale and/or use. Meaning an athlete would have to be convicted of a crime in the state court system.

A first violation means the kid is immediately ineligible for competition in the current season, but can participate in the next season after meeting with the school’s Athletic Review Committee.

A second violation and the athlete will be ineligible for one calendar year from the date of the second violation. A third violation and the athlete will be permanently ineligible.

“I don’t know the climates in those states (Florida, New Jersey and Texas) and what brought that on and why they had to come up with something,” Colbrese said. “We certainly haven’t had that kind of request of our member schools. Schools are not saying that they need assistance in this.”

But when high school baseball players see guys like Clemens and Bonds “allegedly” using performance-enhancing drugs, they have to take notice. Clemens is, by far, the best pitcher of our era and Bonds is the best hitter, as well as the all-time home run king.

The Mitchell Report also included 12 players with ties to the Mariners in David Bell, Ryan Franklin, Ron Villone, Ismael Valdez, Todd Williams, Jim Parque, Josias Manzanillo, David Segui, Fernando Vina, Manny Alexander, Jose Guillen and Glenallen Hill.

Parque still has local ties and has worked with hundreds of kids from South King County in the past three years. The 33-year-old, who pitched for the Chicago White Sox and Tampa Bay Devil Rays from 1998 to 2003 before attempting a comeback with the Mariners last season, opened Big League Edge in Auburn.

The 21,874 square-foot facility offers training methods from the Major Leagues. Big League Edge offers baseball camps and clinics throughout the year.

Parque was listed in the Mitchell Report as twice acquiring human growth hormone from a former New York Mets clubhouse attendant, Kirk Radomski, in 2003. According to the report, “Radomski did not recall who referred Parque to him but said that he made two sales of human growth hormone to him. Radomski said that during the 2003 offseason, Parque sent Radomski a bottle of Winstrol to ‘check out.’ Radomski determined it was ‘no good’ and discarded it.”

It goes on to say that Radomski had Parque’s phone numbers and address, as well as two checks from Parque, who denied taking steroids, totaling $4,800 that also were shown in the report.

“The game has been tainted for a long time,” Parque told the Chicago Sun-Times Wednesday. “There are players that know how to stay ahead of any test, just like any other sport. It has been tainted for a long time, it’s tainted now and it will always be tainted. You just have too many millions of dollars at stake.”

We’ll see what happens next, but don’t hold your breath for a clean, level playing field. Because of the millions of dollars at stake, athletes and doctors will always be ahead of the curve. They will just come up with another way to circumvent the system.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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