Henry Wasxman, the highest ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, is calling into question testimony from March 17, 2005 before the committee from representatives from MLB and the MLBPA. At that time, testimony from Commissioner Selig, MLB Executive Vice-President Rob Manfred, and MLB Players Association Executive Director Donald Fehr said that in 2004, the year after MLB conducted what is known as the “survey test” and mandatory drug testing was initiated, that the number of players that tested positive dropped from over 100 to a dozen the following year. Baseball representatives said that the dramatic drop in the figures showed that the testing program was working significantly to lower PED use.
However, there have been reports that MLB shut down its testing program for part of the season for what the Commissioners Office called an emergency shutdown to an unforeseen situation, namely, the federal investigation of the BALCO steroid ring. As reported by the New York Times:
As a result, players who apparently tested positive in 2003 were not retested in 2004 until the final weeks of the season, and might have been notified beforehand, perhaps skewing the overall test numbers for that year.
“It’s clear that some of the information Major League Baseball and the players union gave the committee in 2005 was inaccurate,” Waxman said in a written statement. “It isn’t clear whether this was intentional or just reflects confusion over the testing program for 2003 and 2004. In any case, the misinformation is unacceptable.”
Both MLB and the MLBPA responded quickly to Waxman’s statements.
“The testimony of Major League Baseball officials was completely accurate, and we are happy to address any concerns that Congressman Waxman may have,” Manfred said.
Michael Weiner, the union’s general counsel, said in reference to Fehr: “Don’s statements at the March 2005 hearing were accurate. If Congressman Waxman has any questions, we would be happy to respond.”
In the Mitchell Report, the issue of notifying players in advance of testing was reported. From page 35 of the PDF of the Mitchell Report:
A former major league player stated that in 2003 he was tested as part of the survey testing program. He said that in September 2004, Gene Orza of the Players Association told him that he had tested positive in 2003 and that he would be tested in the next two weeks.
Independently, Kirk Radomski told us that this former player had earlier told him the same thing about Orza’s statements shortly after the conversation between Orza and the former player occurred. In addition, the former player Larry Bigbie told us that the same former player had told him the same thing about his conversation with Orza. Furthermore, according to Bigbie, in 2004 a current player admitted to Bigbie that he also had been told by a representative of the Players Association that he had tested positive for steroids in 2003.
According to the redacted affidavit filed in support of a search warrant sought for Jason Grimsley’s residence, Grimsley told federal agents that he, too, was informed that he had tested positive for anabolic steroids in 2003. The identity of the person who so advised Grimsley is redacted in the public version of the affidavit, and I did not have access to the unredacted.
Other players may have received similar notice, since (1) the program required that each player be tested once during the 2004 season, (2) the Commissioner’s Office and the Players Association agreed that, since the government had the names of the players who they believed had tested positive in 2003, those players should be notified and should not be tested in 2004 until that notification had taken place, and (3) that notification did not take place until late August or early September 2004, just weeks before the season ended.