Use of performance-enhancing drugs ensnared not just All-Stars like Bonds and Clemens but also fringe players trying to hang on.
Former Sen. George Mitchell's report on steroids in baseball may be just the beginning of a new campaign to rid America's pastime of the scourge of performance-enhancing drugs.
Perhaps Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig – who asked Senator Mitchell to take the job – hoped the report would be the end of an era, not the start of one. A study that solely focused on the problems of the past might have allowed MLB officials to declare the problem solved and move on.
But Mitchell's description of a pervasive drug culture in the sport, his listing of star players as drug users, and his push for widespread changes in baseball's testing regime could constitute a tough challenge to the continuation of the sport's status quo.
"The need is for everyone in baseball to work together to devise and implement the strongest [antidrug] strategy," said Mitchell at a press conference Thursday.
Mitchell was tapped to investigate baseball's drug issues in early 2006, after the book "Game of Shadows" was published, alleging that Barry Bonds and other players used performance-enhancing drugs.
Nearly 20 months later, following a probe that cost upwards of $20 million, Mitchell concluded something that to many fans seemed obvious: For more than a decade, the use of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing substances has been widespread in the major leagues.
Club officials routinely discussed the possibility of substance abuse when evaluating players, according to the report. Players who allegedly sought the boost of various performance-enhancing substances range from the brightest of All-Stars, such as former San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds and former New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens, to those at the leagues' lower rungs, such as former Detroit Tiger and Washington National center fielder Exavier "Nook" Logan.
Everyone shared the blame for the development of the problem, according to the Mitchell report, including the players; the players' union, which resisted testing as an invasion of privacy; the owners, who prior to 2002 were solely focused on the economics of the sport; trainers and others who supplied the drugs.