Baseball can't seem to escape quagmire of substance abuse 

Baseball can't seem to escape quagmire of substance abuse

a pitcher who was released Wednesday by the Arizona Diamondbacks. has told federal investigators about substance abuse in Major League Baseball.(Michael Chow/Arizona Republic/AP)
The blows to Major League Baseball from federal investigators' search Tuesday of a journeyman pitcher's Arizona home were sudden. revealing and bruising.Now baseball must brace for the real nuclear nature of the Jason Grimsley revelations.They are expected to get worse.Federal investigators unsealed an affidavit Tuesday that details Arizona relief pitcher Grimsley's admission to using human growth hormone. steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs during his 15-year major-league career. The document and its accusations help reveal a looming hole in baseball's drug policy. It also includes swaths of black ink to mark out names of former and current players Grimsley identified to agents as users.
Just as the scene shifts from Barry Bonds. his milestone-surpassing 715th home run. and the stain of the investigation into his reported steroid use. the sport now awaits a seismic wallop of fresh allegations. There is an anxiety for what many in the game believe is the inevitable - the unveiling of the names."It saddens me in terms of the baseball culture." said player agent Barry Axelrod. who also serves on the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's board of directors. "A lot of guys felt and thought that this issue was (dissipating). that they were seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. All of sudden. that isn't there anymore. and there is this whole new issue to deal with."The stench of the past prevalence of steroids and other illegal performance-enhancing drugs in the game has clung to baseball for the past several seasons. It grew thicker with March 2005's congressional hearings and the recurring streams of suspensions since. Spurred by Congress and a recently published book detailing Bonds' alleged use of designer drugs. Commissioner Bug Selig ordered an investigation into steroid use through the late 1990s and early 2000s.That in-house investigation is ongoing. the commissioner said in a statement. All while a federal investigation continues to spread out. and uncover baseball's culture of pharmaceutical bulk.It is unclear how far the information from Grimsley extends.One paragraph in the affidavit is particularly damning. It reads:"Since Major League Baseball began its drug testing for steroids and amphetamines. the only drug that he has used is human growth hormone."With a suspension of 50 games awaiting players' first positive test for banned drugs. baseball has promoted its drug-testing policy as among the toughest. if not the toughest. in sports. But since its authoring. critics have derided its banning of human growth hormone without calling for blood tests. Currently. all players have their urine tested at least once. There is no urine test for HGH. though baseball is funding a study to create one.The Olympics have used blood tests for HGH in Turin. but the blood tests are not considered infallible by experts."HGH we don't have a solution for right now. . . . I don't know if we've gotten a grip on how to handle HGH." Axelrod said.Ever-present in this conversation remains Congress."There are two simple steps that could close the gaping loophole in Major League Baseball's drug-testing policy. who chairs the committee that convened the 2005 hearings. "Baseball could either begin random blood testing. or it could store current urine samples so that they could be available when testing methods are improved. Storing samples would be an effective deterrent and would make players think twice about using HGH."It was a sentiment echoed by broadcaster Bob Costas."If baseball and the (MLB) Players Association were really serious about this they would take urine and blood samples and store them and tell players. 'If you're using this now. then you risk being outed a year from now. three years from now. five years from now.'" Costas said. "The union really should have been leading this. The union put its constituents in a position to make a horrible choice. Take banned substances to remain competitive and risk your health or your reputation. Or don't use and fall behind competitively. Is that in its membership's best interest?"Players and officials have found such dilemmas common in this steroid wilderness.Earlier this spring. league and Players Association officials expressed to the Post-Dispatch a wariness to comment on the record about steroid-related issues because of the chance Congress would then subpoena them. In San Francisco. a few members of the Giants said they were reluctant to converse too much with Bonds or comment on their teammate for the fear they would be plopped in front of the BALCO grand jury.Now there's Grimsley.In the affidavit. the federal agents are clear that they encouraged Grimsley to be cooperative. Their leverage was a search warrant executed Tuesday. It isn't a leap to see the names beneath the black in the Grimsley affidavit being put in similar positions. The web begins expanding throughout the big leagues. Suddenly. clubhouses are loaded with sources. Having played on two championship Yankees teams and alongside Angels in California. and filched Albert Belle's corked bat to protect his Cleveland teammate. Grimsley has ubiquitous connections.Six degrees of Grimsley covers baseball.Grimsley's attorney told The Arizona Republic in Wednesday's edition that the pitcher was "outed by the feds" for not cooperating in a "specific effort to target Bonds." The search conducted Tuesday was led by the federal agent who spearheaded the steroid case in San Francisco that centered on the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative.According to the affidavit. federal agents followed a package containing human growth hormone to Grimsley's home on April 19. The pitcher agreed to cooperate with the agents so that a search warrant would be executed in a "low-key manner." read the affidavit written by Internal Revenue Service special agent Jeff Novitzky.What followed that day was a two-hour interview with agents during which Grimsley divulged his use of drugs from steroids to amphetamines. He admitted he was one of as many as 83 players to test positive in 2003 - a list kept secret by Major League Baseball. He named teammates who "always had a supply of amphetamines." He mentioned a doctor in Florida who supplied human growth hormone. He described another player whose steroid use "was very obvious and had the worst back acne he'd ever seen."He said he was "sure" a source he used for amphetamines. anabolic steroids and HGH was also used by "boatloads" of players.These statements are sprinkled with redacted names.The black marks in all this baseball doesn't want lifted.The story "will probably depend on whose names are under the black ink." Costas said. "If some big-time names are in there - and there is a pretty good chance there are - then you're looking at another story that won't go away for baseball. The bigger the name.

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