The George Mitchell report was announced in December of 2007 and it was almost immediate that the results of the report were affect throughout the sports world with fans, players, owners, team officials, baseball officials, and the U.S. Congress. Let’s analyze the impact of the report on each of these categorized groups of people to see how they have responded to the report.
Baseball officials led by Major League Baseball Commissioner Alan “Bud” Selig has been the driving force behind the George Mitchell report in what has been called “The document of the Steroid Era.” Bud Selig endorsed almost all of Senator Mitchell’s recommendations in his report to the media on the day he released the finding of his reports in the 409 page document. The most noteworthy recommendation that Selig has chosen to follow is the decision not to suspend players who according to the report, used steroids or performance enhancing drugs.
The players association had the most to lose as a result of the report and the Mitchell report came down harshly on them, led by chief Donald Fehr. Almost every player cited in the Mitchell report for performance enhancing drugs or steroids refused to talk to Senator Mitchell and his investigation team before the report was issued.
Each man cited in the report could have responded to these accusations and if they in fact had not been guilty of what was stated about them, they would have had a chance to clear their name. However, each person like Roger Clemens, decided not to comply with the Senator’s request for an interview and are now paying the consequences. In addition, the MLBPA might have no choice but to comply with the Mitchell report because it will make it look bad on a public national stage. A new bargaining agreement cannot be reached until 2011 but that doesn’t mean that new details for amendments to the contract can’t be hammered out before then, such as having an independent testing agency conduct multiple random drug tests throughout the year.
Luckily for the Players Association, the Mitchell investigation team was only able to get two trainers to cooperate, mostly because of pressure from the FBI to cooperate as they faced federal indictment charges for their involvement in distributing illegal steroids or performance enhancing drugs. Had more trainers been forced to cooperate, the list of guilty players involved with steroids and performance enhancing drugs would have been at least doubled.
Individual players have taken two very different approaches to the Mitchell Report. Some players like David Justice, Fernando Vina and Roger Clemens had adamantly denied using any type of performance enhancing drugs. Other players like Andy Petitte have maintained the position that they used the drug only once in order to heal their body faster, not to gain an unfair advantage on their competition.
Roger Clemens is being portrayed by the NY media as guilty and rightfully so. His personal trainer has stated that he used steroids and his training partner Andy Pettite has also admitted his use of HGH to heal quicker. Clemens has been silent on the issue, stating that he never took any performance enhancing drugs. This entire escapade will surely hurt Clemens’ Hall of Fame perception as he goes from becoming a first ballot Hall of Famer to now being in the same class as Barry Bonds and Mark McGuire.
The United States Congress has carefully watched the developments of the Mitchell Report unfold and will not be afraid to step in once again if needed. The U.S. Congress has already hauled players and baseball officials before it such as Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa and others. The results of these testimonies has led to charges of perjury against Bond in court and also paved the way for the Mitchell Report.
If the U.S. Congress does not see results, it will quickly step in. Congress views American sports as tainted from steroids and even in the Olympics. Steroids and performance enhancing drugs are also viewed as a threat to society because young players in high school have been taking these drugs in order to gain an unfair advantage. The damage done to a person’s body cannot be fixed and poses health problems. Congress will surely not wait for a new bargaining agreement to be reached in 2011 before a new plan to fight steroids use has been put in place. This will also place more pressure on player union boss Donald Fehr to cooperate, something he is hesitant to do.
The owners have taken some criticism for focusing too much on the economics of baseball and turning a blind eye toward steroid use. However, for the most part, General Managers are trying to improve their own team and secure their own jobs which are constantly under duress and they cannot and should not be questioning whether a player they sign has used steroids. The bottom line for General Managers is, can they help my team be better? In most cases, especially for steroid users, the answer is yes.