Monday, August 1, 2005
Baltimore Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro, the latest entrant into baseball's select 3000 hit club (not to mention being one of four major leaguers with 3000 hits and 500 home runs), was suspended by Major League Baseball for ten days for violating the new steroid policy. That policy was adopted shortly after a hearing before the House Government Reform Committee in March 2005 at which Mark McGwire refused to state whether or not he had ever taken steroids, and Palmeiro asserted in his prepared remarks (here): "Let me start by telling you this: I have never used steroids. Period. I don’t know how to say it any more clearly than that. Never. The reference to me in Mr. Canseco’s book is absolutely false." Jose Canseco (an admitted steroid user) asserted in his book that Palmeiro took steroids while they were on the Texas Rangers. In response to the suspension, Palmeiro issued a written statement (here) that takes a similar approach: "I have never intentionally used steroids. Never. Ever. Period . . . Ultimately, although I never intentionally put a banned substance into my body, the independent arbitrator ruled that I had to be suspended under the terms of the program."
Did Palmeiro tell the truth when he testified before Congress? Recall that Barry Bonds, who was not subpoenaed to the March hearing, testified before the grand jury in the BALCO case that he did not know the substances he received from his personal trainer contained steroids. After all the publicity surrounding steroids, can one "accidentally" take steroids? Palmeiro explains in his statement: "I am sure you will ask how I tested positive for a banned substance. As I look back, I don't have a specific answer to give. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to explain to the arbitrator how the banned substance entered my body." Given the certainty of Palmeiro's assertion to the Committee, I suspect an enterprising prosecutor will take a closer look at his past conduct. (ph)