August 1, 2009

Was Ortiz Told Of Positive Test In 2004?

David Ortiz said that he was "blindsided" on Thursday by the news that he had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003.

That may not be true.

The Mitchell Report states that the 100+ players who tested positive were told of those results by the players union in early September 2004. However, MLBPA Executive Director Donald Fehr told Congress in 2008 that the players were not informed that they had tested positive. The commissioner's office says that, even to this day, it does not know which players tested positive.

Ortiz contacted the union on Friday.
I'm trying to find out what's going on. As soon as I find out, I'll let you guys know.
From the Mitchell Report (SR-25 to SR-28) (my emphasis):
With respect to the players who the federal agents believed had tested positive during 2003 survey testing, however, the Commissioner's Office and the Players Association agreed that: (1) the Players Association would be permitted to advise those players of this fact, since that information was now in the hands of the government ...

Sometime between mid-August and early September 2004, Manfred contacted Orza because the Players Association had not yet notified the players involved. The 2004 season was drawing to a close without those players having been tested because they remained under the moratorium. Manfred said that he pressed Orza to notify the players as soon as possible so that they could be tested. All of the players were notified by early September 2004.

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. ...

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. Orza declined my request for an interview.
From Fehr's July 2008 letter to the House of Representatives' Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (my emphasis):
In other words, the parties concluded that it was necessary to inform these players whom the MLBPA represents -- that the government had their names on a list of individuals whose records the government was targeting, and that they should assume the Department of Justice would attempt to secure their 2004 test results. ...

In September 2004 the conversations contemplated by the parties' agreement took place between an MLBPA attorney and each player on the government list who was then on a Major League roster. After those players had been informed of the legal situation (to the extent permitted by the sealing orders), each was tested before the season ended.

Two important points need to be made about these conversations. First, players were not told that they had tested positive in 2003; they were told that they were named on a list of players whose records the government was targeting. They also were told that, as reported in the press, the government had seized testing records in April, that in May the government had issued a grand jury subpoena with a list of player names attached, and that their name was included. The players were not told, however, what their 2003 test results were. Indeed, the MLBPA attorneys who spoke to the players had not seen the 2003 test results.
Despite Fehr's claims, the many independent examples cited by Mitchell indicate the union did tell the players.

If so, that would mean that Ortiz lied on Thursday when he said he had no knowledge of the positive test. I want to believe he is being straight-forward with the media and fans -- although, of course, that does not necessarily mean that he did not test positive in 2003 (or that he was not using PEDs), only that he was not informed of a positive test.Pedro Martinez, on David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez being on the PED List:
It was something that was very common among the players, as far as I know. I was never told that they were using anything. ... I'm not going to say anything, because I don't agree with it. I believe the game should be played clean. They've got my total support. They weren't the only ones. There were a lot of guys. ... We won in 2004. That's it. Are you going to tell me that the other guys, who used it on other teams are now whining? They used it, too.
This quote is fairly blah -- I don't expect Pedro to say he knew (or even heard) that Flo was using PEDs while in Boston -- but (a) it's Pedro and (b) he's saying yet again that he played clean.

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