The Report to the
Commissioner of Baseball of an Independent Investigation into the Illegal
Use of Steroids and Other Performance Enhancing Substances by Players
in Major League Baseball, otherwise known as the “Mitchell Report,”
shocked much of the American public upon its release in December 2007.
The Report, a result of former United States Senator George J. Mitchell’s
twenty-month investigation into the use of so-called performance-enhancing
drugs in major league baseball, contained many names that few expected
to see on the list, including Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, both
pitchers. Clemens is a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, two more
than any other pitcher, and is considered one of the greatest in baseball
Commissioner of Major
League Baseball Bud Selig noted when the Report was released that those
it named potentially would face disciplinary sanctions. Whether
he acts remains to be seen. Many blame Selig for encouraging drug
use in order to boost interest in the game after the lengthy strike
in the mid-1990s.
Clemens, his reputation
and achievements under question, may find it difficult to be inducted
into the Baseball Hall of Fame, a significant blow considering how long
he has been in the league and the many accolades he has won.
Such a punishment, however,
proved insufficient for many over-eager politicians in Congress anxious
to wring some publicity out of the Mitchell Report. On February
12 the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held the first
of two hearings on the issue. The hearing was entitled “Myths
and Facts about Human Growth Hormone, B12, and Other Substances” and
included four witnesses – a deputy director of the National Heart,
Lung and Blood Institute, an associate professor of medicine at the
Boston University School of Medicine, a professor of clinical pediatrics
at the University of Virginia, and a medical doctor with the Department
of Rehabilitation Medicine, Hospital for Joint Diseases. What
does a professor of pediatrics have to do with steroids in professional
The following day the
Committee held another hearing on the subject. This hearing was
much more prominent because Clemens himself testified, as did his trainer,
who leveled the accusations against him in the first place, as well
as an investigator on former Senator Mitchell’s staff. During
the hearing Clemens stated he “never used anabolic steroids or
human growth hormone,” while his trainer maintained that he had.
After the theatrics of
the Congressional hearing subsided, one would have thought the issue
would be closed. Wrong. It appears some Representatives
need more publicity on the issue. Representative Henry A. Waxman
(D-CA), Chairman of the Committee, and Thomas B. Davis, III (R-VA),
Ranking Member, sent a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey on
Wednesday urging the Department of Justice to investigate whether Clemens
perjured himself and made knowingly false statements in his testimony.
This is what the
resources of Congress and the Federal Government are being used for?
Since when does Congress have authority over sports in the first place?
The last time I read the United States Constitution there was no mention
of a power to regulate athletics. But now we have two days worth
of testimony on the issue and a letter urging the Department of Justice,
which is already strained morally and financially, to waste its limited
resources on an investigation into something over which Congress has
After releasing the letter
Davis stated, “For the good of the investigation and integrity of
the Committee, we’ve asked the Department of Justice to get to the bottom
of this.” This is utterly ridiculous. Shame on these Representatives
for misusing their power.
The Justice Department
ought to ignore this letter, the Congressional testimony, and everything
else involved with the case. Sure, some performance-enhancing
drugs are illegal. If Clemens acted unlawfully he should be punished
by local law enforcement. He also should be denied induction into
the Hall of Fame and have his records/achievements tossed out.
But let’s be serious – Congress has no business in baseball.