Answer: Would you believe testimony from baseball players?
Former Senate Majority leader George Mitchell has completed his 20-month investigation into steroids in baseball, and will present the findings tomorrow. Depending on the source, the report will name "about 50" or "60-80" current and former players.
Will this report -- coming as it does after the federal indictment of pariah Barry Bonds, and after the Major League Baseball Players Association has twice agreed (under congressional pressure) to strengthen steroid penalties -- finally satiate anti-drug crusaders at the, uh, House Committee on Government Reform? Don't count on it.
Rep. [Christopher] Shays smiles thinking back on the likes of Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro parading before the House Committee on Government Reform -- the sense of entitlement they carried on their broad shoulders, the way they dismissed allegations of widespread steroid use in the game, even though committee members suspected otherwise.
"Let me just say that they were deceitful," Shays, a Republican, said of the collective baseball group. "They weren't cooperative. And they were arrogant. And they were like, 'How dare you question us,' kind of attitude. And I want you to know I don't take offense at that. There are certain things as a member of Congress I don't like. But personally, I was just stunned by it because I haven't see worse behavior in anyone in my 20 years in public life in Congress." […]
"You would hope that they would be able to police their own sport," said Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, D-Mass. "That remains to be seen. So if it discourages greatly, steroid use, then we should consider that a success. However if it is less than effective against steroid use in baseball then I think we have no other option than for Congress to take action under the Controlled Substance Act.["]
The backbone of Mitchell's report is information gleaned from former New York Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski, whose punishment for steroid distribution was lessened by the feds in exchange for him sharing information with baseball's investigators. ESPN.com's Howard Bryant has thrown several buckets of pre-emptive cold water on the probe, including anonymous quotes from terrified clubhouse trainers who say they were pressured to testify (on threats of $100,000 reprisals) about who they guessed might be on the juice.
"They wanted us to speculate. And I wouldn't do that. They wanted me to say who I thought was using steroids. And when I said, 'I don't know,' they would say, 'Well, you work most closely with these guys. You work on their bodies every day. You weren't the least bit suspicious when you saw their bodies change?'
"This was the kind of stuff I was most afraid of, because they didn't ask me about specific people with specific information that they had. They asked me to guess. I said my guess was no guess at all, because what would happen to me if I said a guy was using steroids who wasn't? What if I guessed wrong?["]