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Baseball & Steroids


To post an excerpt from Report on Investigation Into Rafael Palmeiro’s March 17, 2005 Testimony Before the Committee on Government Reform, released yesterday:

During his interview with Committee staff, Mr. Palmeiro was questioned about the polygraph examination and why the examiner did not ask Mr. Palmeiro whether he knowingly took steroids.111 Mr. Palmeiro responded: “I’m not sure. I did not set it up. I have never done a polygraph test in my life. I didn’t know what to expect. I was just there to answer the questions that they put in front of me.”112

…………

111. Tr. at 178-79, Interview by House Comm. on Gov’t. Reform staff with Rafael Palmeiro, baseball player for the Baltimore Orioles, in Washington, D.C. (Aug. 25, 2005) [hereinafter Interview with Rafael Palmeiro].
112. Id


(The November 11 New York Times – online posted its report on the House Committee findings along with this ominous image.)

This particular quote derives from page 14/16 of the November 10 report—the ’14′ referring to the page in the printed text, the ’16′ to the page in the PDF version of the same.

The polygraph exam (“lie detector” test) was administered to the Baltimore Orioles’ then-first baseman Rafael Palmeiro on June 13, 2005. The Executive Summary of the House Committee report will set the scene (p. 1/3):

On March 17, 2005, the Committee on Government Reform (the “Committee”) held a hearing entitled, “Restoring Faith in America’s Pastime: Evaluating Major League Baseball’s Efforts to Eradicate Steroid Use,” to gauge the reality of steroid use in Major League Baseball (MLB), to examine MLB’s new drug testing policy, and to educate America’s youth on the health ramifications of steroid use. Several current and former baseball players were subpoenaed to appear at the hearing. Baltimore Orioles baseball player Rafael Palmeiro appeared before the Committee and testified under oath that he had never used anabolic steroids. On August 1, 2005, MLB announced that Mr. Palmeiro had violated MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program (“MLB’s testing program”) and would be suspended for 10 days. It was later confirmed that Mr. Palmeiro had tested positive for the steroid stanozolol.

Mr. Palmeiro tested positive for a performance enhancing drug six weeks after his congressional testimony. As a result of his positive test, the Committee conducted an investigation to determine whether Mr. Palmeiro’s March 17, 2005, testimony should be referred to the Department of Justice for an investigation of potential perjury….

I couldn’t care less about the perjury side of this story. Besides (and for the record), the House Committee’s official determination was that the “evidence before the Committee is insufficient to merit a perjury referral” to the Department of Justice (p. 42/44).

However, several other aspects of this Rafael Palmeiro – House Committee on Government Reform dance do interest me. It was summed up in the saccharine title of the House Committee’s March 17 hearings: “Restoring Faith in America’s Pastime: Evaluating Major League Baseball’s Efforts to Eradicate Steroid Use.” My question is, Why? What legitimate business was it of the House Committee on Government Reform—or any other member of the American Congress—from Senator John McCain and Senator Jim Bunning on down—to restore faith in Major League Baseball?

To excerpt this section of the House Committee report in full, it reads as follows (pp. 13-14/15-16):

B. Polygraph Documents

Attached to the arbitration documents was a Polygraph Examination Summary by W. Ronald Lilly of Lilly Polygraph Services, dated June 14, 2005.106 Mr. Lilly administered a polygraph examination to Mr. Palmeiro on June 13, 2005. The arbitration documents included the following two questions:

Q: When you received that B-12, did you know that it contained a steroid?
A: No.
Q: When you received that B-12 this past April, did you know that it contained a steroid?
A: No.107

The examination summary stated, “It is the opinion of this examiner that Mr. Palmeiro passed his examination, as he did not record responses that were indicative of deception.”108

On August 23, 2005, Mr. Palmeiro’s attorneys sent to the Committee, via facsimile, additional documents relating to the polygraph examination.109 The documents included all questions posed to Mr. Palmeiro during the June 13, 2005, polygraph examination. In addition to the two questions cited in Lilly’s Polygraph Examination Summary, Mr. Palmeiro was also asked the following:

Q: Did you unknowingly receive a B-12 supplement that contained a steroid?
A: Yes.
Q: Do you recall ever secretly doing anything that would have caused shame or dishonor to your family?
A: No.
Q: In the past year, did you ever seriously think about violating your personal beliefs by doing something unlawful?
A: No.
Q: Are you the kind of person who would lie in order to protect someone involved in an unlawful activity?
A: No.110

During his interview with Committee staff, Mr. Palmeiro was questioned about the polygraph examination and why the examiner did not ask Mr. Palmeiro whether he knowingly took steroids.111 Mr. Palmeiro responded: “I’m not sure. I did not set it up. I have never done a polygraph test in my life. I didn’t know what to expect. I was just there to answer the questions that they put in front of me.”112

…………

106 Polygraph Examination Summary by W. Ronald Lilly of Lilly Polygraph Services, from MLB to House Comm. on Gov’t. Reform (Aug. 12, 2005)
107 Id.
108 Id.
109 On August 29, 2005, attorneys for Mr. Palmeiro delivered the charts from the polygraph exam to the Committee. Letter from Adam C. Sloane, attorney for Rafael Palmeiro, to House Comm. on Gov’t. Reform staff (Aug. 23, 2005).
110 Polygraph Exam Questions by W. Ronald Lilly of Lilly Polygraph Services, from attorneys for Rafael Palmeiro to House Comm. on Gov’t. Reform staff (Aug. 23, 2005).
111. Tr. at 178-79, Interview by House Comm. on Gov’t. Reform staff with Rafael Palmeiro, baseball player for the Baltimore Orioles, in Washington, D.C. (Aug. 25, 2005) [hereinafter Interview with Rafael Palmeiro].
112. Id

To reiterate: (A) “It is the opinion of this examiner [Lilly Polygraph Services] that Mr. Palmeiro passed his examination, as he did not record responses that were indicative of deception.” But (b) “the examiner did not ask Mr. Palmeiro whether he knowingly took steroids.”

Now. Specific Rafael Palmeiro – House Committee on Government Reform issues aside, what does the House Committee report suggest about the integrity of Major League Baseball’s actual policy toward the use of performance enhancing drugs by its players—given the fact that the polygraph exam that was administered to Palmeiro in June on behalf of the very arbitration procedure then pending between Baseball and the Players Association didn’t even see fit to ask Palmeiro whether or not he had knowingly taken steroids?

I await some utterly confused (and confusing) faux leftist to spin this one for us.

Government Reform Releases Report on Committee Investigation into Rafael Palmeiro Testimony,” Statement by Chairman Rep. Tom Davis, Committee on Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives, November 10, 2005
Report on Investigation Into Rafael Palmeiro’s March 17, 2005 Testimony Before the Committee on Government Reform, Committee on Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives, November 10, 2005

Report doubts Palmeiro: Ex-Oriole’s steroid defense undercut; clubhouse ‘a mess’,” Jeff Barker, Baltimore Sun, November 11, 2005
Report Finds No Evidence of Perjury by Palmeiro,” Richard Sandomir, New York Times, November 11, 2005
Baseball’s Palmeiro won’t face perjury charges,” Edward Epstein, San Francisco Chronicle, November 11, 2005
Congress Declines to Prosecute Palmeiro for Perjury,” Jorge Arangure Jr., Washington Post, November 11, 2005

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