A few hours after A-Rod’s ESPN interview with Peter Gammons in which he admitted to performance-enhancing substance use from 2001-2003, the Yankees and the MLB Players Association have responded in turn.
The Yankees are standing by their man:
We strongly believe there is no place in baseball for performance enhancing drugs of any type, and we support the efforts of the Commissioner to continually improve the testing process.
We urged Alex to be completely open, honest and forthcoming in addressing his use of performance enhancing drugs. We take him at his word that he was. Although we are disappointed in the mistake he spoke to today, we realize that Alex—like all of us—is a human being not immune to fault.
We speak often about the members of this organization being part of a family, and that is never more true than in times of adversity. Alex took a big step by admitting his mistake, and while there is no condoning the use of performance enhancing drugs, we respect his decision to take accountability for his actions. We support Alex, and we will do everything we can to help him deal with this challenge and prepare for the upcoming season.
The Players Association leaders were more defensive, but they had to be. Their leadership has been accused of ineptitude, negligence and illegal actions. They explain why the anonymous tests were not destroyed and reiterate the claim that Gene Orza has never warned anyone of an impending steroid test. After the jump, their statement.
We are issuing this statement today to respond to two questions that have been raised in the last few days in connection with reports about Alex Rodriguez and the 2003 MLB testing program. First, it has been asked why the results from our 2003 survey tests were not destroyed before they were seized by the government in the spring of 2004. The short answer is that in November, 2003, before that could take place, a grand jury subpoena for program records was issued.
In mid-November 2003, the 2003 survey test results were tabulated and finalized. The MLBPA first received results on Tuesday, November 11. Those results were finalized on Thursday, November 13, and the players were advised by a memo dated Friday, November 14. Promptly thereafter, the first steps were taken to begin the process of destruction of the testing materials and records, as contemplated by the Basic Agreement. On November 19, however, we learned that the government had issued a subpoena. Upon learning this, we concluded, of course, that it would be improper to proceed with the destruction of the materials.
The fact that such a subpoena issued in November 2003 has been part of the public record for more than two years. See, U.S. v. CDT, 473 F3d at 920 (2006), and 513 F3d at 1090 (2008) (both opinions have now been vacated). Other subpoenas followed, including one for all test results.
Over the next several months we attempted to negotiate a resolution of the matter with the United States Attorneys Office for the Northern District of California. During that time we pledged to the government attorneys that the materials would not be destroyed. When the government attorneys refused to withdraw its subpoena for all 2003 test results, we decided to ask a judge to determine to what the government was entitled. See, 473 F3d at 944, and 513 F3d at 1118. On the same day we were filing our papers with the court, the government attorneys obtained a search warrant and they began seizing materials the following day. Pursuant to that search warrant which named only 10 individuals, the government seized records for every baseball player tested under our program, in addition to many records related to testing in other sports, and even records for other (non-sport) business entities.
Later in 2004 three federal district judges in three different judicial districts ruled that the government’s seizures were unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment and ordered the government to return all the materials seized (except for those related to the 10 players listed in the original search warrant). The government appealed and the matter is still pending before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. On December 18, 2008, the case was reargued before an en banc panel of Ninth Circuit judges.
The second question that has been raised in recent days is whether Gene Orza or any other MLBPA official was engaged in improper “tipping” of players about 2004 tests. As we have said before, there was no improper tipping of players. Any allegations that Gene Orza or any other MLBPA official acted improperly are wrong.
These are the pure, unfiltered press releases from two of the major players in this story. I’ll have my reaction and some personal thoughts on A-Rod in a few hours.