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Palmeiro won't be charged with perjury
Scripps Howard News Service


November 11, 2005

WASHINGTON - Rafael Palmeiro dodged a perjury rap Thursday when the House Government Reform Committee declined to prosecute the baseball star for telling the committee he had never taken steroids just seven weeks before failing a drug test.

"It is not a finding of innocence, but it's a finding that we could not substantiate perjury," said Chairman Tom Davis, R-Va.

One of only four players in major league history to hit 500 home runs and 3,000 hits, Palmeiro was suspended for 10 days in August for using steroids.

Q and A surrounding the 44-page investigation report released by the committee:

Q: Why wasn't Palmeiro charged with perjury?





A: Testifying before the committee on March 17, Palmeiro emphatically said that: "I have never used steroids, period."

On May 4, Palmeiro was tested for steroids as part of baseball's drug testing plan. His urine sample came back positive for the steroid, stanozolol.

Congressional investigators could not determine when Palmeiro ingested the stanozolol, which can remain in a person's system for up to four weeks. Since it was possible that Palmeiro took the steroids after his declaration of innocence on March 17, the committee determined that it could not charge him with perjury.

Q: How did steroids get into Palmeiro's urine?

A: Either no one knows, or no one is telling. Palmeiro says he doesn't know, but thinks that the steroids may have been part of a contaminated B-12 vitamin dose he received in mid-April from Baltimore Orioles' teammate, Miguel Tejada.

That dose was never tested for steroids because the vial and a syringe were discarded after Palmeiro's wife, Lynn, injected the B-12 into his buttocks. However, additional vials of B-12 held by Tejada were tested and none were found to contain steroids.

Additionally, Tejada gave vials of B-12 to two other unidentified Baltimore players. One of those doses was tested and it came back negative. Tejada and the two players were also tested, and they passed their drug tests.

Q: Did Palmeiro use steroids before 2005?

A: Jose Canseco, a former teammate, wrote in his book, "Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big," that he injected Palmeiro with steroids when they played for the Texas Rangers in 1992-93.

Palmeiro denies ever using steroids before 2005. Major League Baseball first began testing for steroids in 2003, 17 years after Palmeiro entered the major leagues. In 2003 and 2004, Palmeiro's drug tests came back negative.

The Congressional report raised questions, however, about the integrity of baseball drug testing system, noting that players are unsupervised for long periods of time after being requested to give a urine sample.

"The time between notification and sample collection provides opportunities for players to cheat on their drug tests - either by taking masking agents to avoid the detection of steroids in their urine or by more invasive methods."

Q: Did baseball and union officials delay revealing Palmeiro's positive drug test until after Palmeiro reached the 3,000-hit milestone?

A: Palmeiro was first notified that he had tested positive on May 19, when he still needed 56 hits to reach 3,000. On June 10, Commissioner Bud Selig sent Palmeiro notice that his 10-day suspension was to begin on June 14.

On June 13, Palmeiro filed a formal grievance to challenge the ruling.

An arbitration panel, consisting of MLB executive vice president John McHale, Players Association official Stephen Fehr, and independent arbitrator Shyam Das, began to review Palmeiro's grievance on June 16. At that time Palmeiro had 2,976 hits.

Closing arguments weren't made to the panel until July 14, one day before Palmeiro got his 3,000th hit.

The arbitration panel's denial and Palmeiro's suspension weren't announced until Aug. 1.

Q: What is next for Palmeiro?

A: He is a free agent, and he says he would like to play in 2006. The Orioles have indicated that they don't want him back. It is unclear how many teams will be interested in a 41-year-old first baseman who hit .266 and just 2-for-26 (.077) after his suspension.

Q: What is next for Congress regarding the steroids issue?

A: Many members of Congress involved in this issue say they prefer for baseball and the other U.S. professional sports leagues to tighten their own steroid policies. But spurred by the Palmeiro case and continued inaction by league and players union officials, the House and Senate are pursuing legislation to establish uniform steroid policies for American sports leagues. Davis warned baseball officials that they don't have much time to act before Congress does.

"They've got a couple of weeks max," he said. "I think it will pass this year, and I think it will be much stricter than if the Players Association had reached an agreement."


E-mail David Nielsen at nielsend(at)
Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service,

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