The End of Baseball's 'Steroids Era'?

Former Sen. George Mitchell finds that baseball has had a pervasive culture of performance-enhancing drugs.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

BILL WOLFF (Announcer): From NPR News in New York, this is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT.

(Soundbite of music)

ALISON STEWART, host:

This is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News. It's news. It's information. Its Luke's last hour ever. Just as host of the show, not on the planet.

I'm Alison Stewart

LUKE BURBANK, host:

And I'm Luke Burbank. It's December 14th 2007. You know, I've actually got some stuff to take for. Do I need to stay for the whole hour?

STEWART: You need to stay, buddy.

BURBANK: I just have a few loose ends to tie up.

STEWART: The exit agreement says you're staying until 9 o'clock Eastern Standard Time.

BURBANK: Fine, fine, hard butt.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BURBANK: I'll be here.

STEWART: Oh, that's actually kind of nice of you to say.

BURBANK: See, how I didn't say the bad word? I'm trying to learn…

STEWART: I feel like …

BURBANK: …in my last hour, actually how to not - FCC violation.…

STEWART: You did a lot of squats yesterday. I appreciate that.

Hey, coming up on the show, we're going to continue looking at the candidates and how they're viewed in their hometowns. Today, Hillary Clinton - not exactly her hometown, but it's where she is senator. We're going to talk with a reporter from the capital of New York. What's it called, Luke?

BURBANK: Albany.

STEWART: There you go.

BURBANK: Also, there have been some big events in Iraq this week. It seemed like things have quieted down for a while, at least in terms of stuff that was bubbling up into the media. But that's not the case this week. We're going to bring back the week in Iraq and hear what's been going on.

STEWART: And NPR's Bob Mondello will join us to talk about the weekend movies, the big blockbuster - they hope anyway. It stars Will Smith; it's called "I am Legend."

And Korva Coleman will be here with today's headlines in just a minute.

But first, let's get to the BPP's big story.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. GEORGE MITCHELL (Former Democratic Senator, Maine): The use of steroids in Major League Baseball was widespread.

STEWART: Like a shot in the arm, you knew it was coming, but it still feels shocking when it arrived. That was former Senator George Mitchell yesterday delivering his much-anticipated report on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.

BURBANK: Let's just lay out the report's main conclusions here. Players' use of performance-enhancing drugs was rampant in baseball for more than a decade. The teams, commissioner's office and players union were all slow to react, and in many cases, turned a blind eye to warning signs. Although the anti-drug policies enacted in 2004 and 2005 helped, many players switched to human growth hormone, which doesn't show up in a urine test. And the proposed solution: more testing by a more independent group and a focus on changing the future instead of focusing on the past.

STEWART: We spoke with ESPN investigative reporter T.J. Quinn who has been following the story for years. Here's a little bit of what he had to say.

Mr. T.J. QUINN (Investigative Reporter, ESPN): Mitchell himself admits in this thing he was very limited in how much he could get, and he's right. Without Kurt Radomski, the former Mets clubhouse attendant and without Brian McNamee, Roger Clemens' personal trainer, he doesn't have a lot as far as names. And most of that was because players just wouldn't speak to him.

But what Mitchell said the standard was and what baseball said when Bud Selig first charged Mitchell with creating this commission 21 months ago was that it would be a way to have some kind of reckoning for the era in general and create for them a way to move forward. I think if you look at this - and maybe the best term to use is, you know, political terms - it was a success, I think, because it let them say, look, we did everything we could.

BURBANK: Well, say what you want about Bud Selig, by the way, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, he didn't come out smelling like a rose in this report either. But, you know, say whatever you want about him. Mitchell did seem to have a certain amount of autonomy because he goes off on Selig. And that was one of the big questions was: Was Mitchell going to actually be able to just kind of go anywhere he wanted with this?

Mr. QUINN: You know, it's funny, people I talked to in Major League Baseball over the last couple of years said they were worried that was exactly what was going to happen; that Mitchell knew his reputation would, I mean, it's funny that a guy who's helped bring peace to Northern Ireland, who was, you know (unintelligible)…

STEWART: Right, could have been on the Supreme Court, maybe.

Mr. QUINN: Yeah, exactly. And then all of a sudden his life is going to be defined by, you know, how well he looked into steroids in baseball. And they knew he was not going to risk his reputation on a flimsy report and that for that reason he would be harsh on Major League Baseball's complicity in this, and he was.

STEWART: That is the BPP's big story.

Now here's Korva Coleman with even more news.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.