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Q&A with George Mitchell (cont.)

Posted: Friday December 14, 2007 5:46PM; Updated: Monday December 17, 2007 9:53AM
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SI.com: In other words, it's unlikely anyone is getting blind-sided here.

Mitchell: I don't see how. Unless there was some breakdown in communication between [the players] and their representatives. Oh, no. They all knew. And I started sending these lists in June ... I had hoped the players would come in and talk to me and I would show them what I had, let them consult with their lawyers. Then give their side of the story. And I would have taken that into account.

SI.com: Kirk Radomski [the former Mets clubhouse attendant] is obviously relied on heavily. Did it give you pause to interview someone who was speaking to you as a condition of their plea deal?

Mitchell: I interviewed him four times over several months during which time we sought to obtain corroboration for much of what he said. We talked to several former players who said, "Yes, that's right. He sold the substances we injected." There were numerous documents ... when we finished interviewing him, we met federal law enforcement officials and they had interviewed him at great length before we had. And we asked them to confirm to us -- or not -- that what he told us was consistent with what he had told them. And they said yes, in every respect. And the same is true for Brian McNamee. Law enforcement officials said, "Yes, he's been consistent from the very beginning."

So we did the best we could under the circumstances to obtain truthful information. And in both cases, they were warned by federal officials that if they did not tell the truth, they would be subject to criminal [charges] for making false statements ... in the case of Radomski he would not only possible face further prosecution but he would forfeit the commitment to recommend leniency in the sentencing. So there was an overwhelming incentive not to give false statements.

SI.com: I think it's fair to say that one impetus behind commissioning this report was the Capitol Hill testimony that went so badly. Have you spoken with any former colleague in Congress?

Mitchell: I spoke yesterday with a couple of members of Congress. But it was brief. [Many said,] "I look forward to reading the report."

SI.com: Did you consult John Dowd [who served as Special Counsel to Major League Baseball vis--vis the Pete Rose betting investigation] in the process of this?

Mitchell: I spoke to him several times. He was helpful. Just the fact that -- even though this wasn't totally analogous -- he described what he went through and how he went about it, what obstacles he faced. I spoke with [former commissioners] Fay Vincent, and Peter Ueberoth. They were all helpful.

SI.com: Is your work done? Or do have an interest in continuing to bridge the gap between labor and management and implement some of the suggestions you laid out?

Mitchell: I'm done. I was given a job and I did it. There is an inevitable temptation to extend beyond the mandate and the task. I believe in certain principles and one of them is restraint. If you ask me to do another job, I can decide on that. But right now I was asked to look in on this. With the help of [my partners] I looked into it, found what I learned, recorded it. I made very clear: I make no pretenses that I learned everything there is to know about performance-enhancing drugs. There's much more than we discovered. But I think we learned enough to accurately describe the era and what happened. Also, I have been diagnosed with prostate cancer. I begin my radiation treatment the first week of January. I'm fine. I expect to make a full recovery. My doctors give me an excellent prognosis. But that's my next step. I'll be done with the treatments the first week of the season.

SI.com: So you're still a fan?

Mitchell: Oh yes. Oh yes. I love baseball. This fall my son played on a travel team. So every weekend I went -- did you know there's a Joe Torre Field in Brooklyn? They play double-headers on Sunday morning and practice on Randall's Island on Saturday. I spend many a Sunday watching baseball.

SI.com: And you're still a fan of Major League Baseball, too?

Mitchell: Absolutely. Every day of the season, the first thing I do in the morning is look at the box scores.

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