If Murray Chass’ recent reports are accurate, the New York Yankees had a pretty good idea where Jason Giambi’s power was coming from. If one side of today’s report from The Daily News’ Christian Red, Michael O’Keefe and T.J. Quinn is to be believed, Major League Baseball also knew what was up on a wider scale, and chose to ignore the problem. Much as we love poking holes in Jose Canseco’s credibility, are there any owners (or puppet commissioners) who come off any better in this exchange?
Special Agent Greg Stejskal, who oversees the Bureau’s Ann Arbor, Mich., office, said he told baseball security chief Kevin Hallinan that Jose Canseco and many other players were using illegal anabolic steroids. Stejskal’s warning was based on evidence gathered during a far-reaching steroid investigation he conducted in the ’90s, but the agent says the lords of the game did not act on the information.
“I alerted Major League Baseball back in the time when we had the case, that Canseco was a heavy user and that they should be aware of it. . . . I spoke to the people in their security office. Hallinan was one of the people I spoke to,” Stejskal told The News.
Hallinan “seemed interested,” Stejskal said, but the agent says there was little baseball security could do about the problem. Major League Baseball and the union did not agree to a steroid testing program or disciplinary sanctions until 2002. A proposal during negotiations preceding the 1994 players’ strike went nowhere. The FBI investigation focused on dealers rather than users.
Baseball officials denied yesterday that they were informed of steroid use, and angrily denounced Stejskal’s charges.
“It did not happen,” Hallinan said. “Not with this guy, not with anybody else.”
Stejskal said the FBI’s investigation into steroid use by bodybuilders and weightlifters was centered in Michigan but reached as far as Canada, Mexico, Florida and California and revealed widespread steroid use in baseball during the 1990s.
“There’s little question the use of steroids was very widespread in baseball,” Stejskal said. “And Major League Baseball in effect, they didn’t sanction it, but they certainly looked the other way.”
Had he been aware, Hallinan said, he would have pursued an investigation.
“If a guy comes to me and makes a statement like that, I’m going to squeeze him like a wet rag,” Hallinan said. “The name doesn’t ring a bell at all. Some guy makes a statement like that, give me specifics, I’m on it.”