Vitamin given to Palmeiro `clean'

B12 from Tejada tested, was legal, O's say

Palmeiro out for season

September 23, 2005|By Jeff Barker, Roch Kubatko and Dan Connolly | Jeff Barker, Roch Kubatko and Dan Connolly,Sun reporters

A liquid vitamin given to Rafael Palmeiro by an Orioles teammate was "clean," the club said yesterday, suggesting it could not have caused Palmeiro's positive steroid test that led to his suspension.

Orioles star shortstop Miguel Tejada gave a syringe of vitamin B12 to Palmeiro, but a sample of the liquid provided to baseball investigators was found not to contain illegal substances, said Jim Beattie, the club's executive vice president for baseball operations.

"They tested the stuff that Miggy had and found out it was B12 and cleared it and that's the end of story," Beattie said last night.

Palmeiro tested positive for a steroid - reportedly stanozolol - and served a 10-day suspension beginning Aug. 1. He said after his suspension was announced that the positive test resulted from an unintentional act - an "accident," he said, cautioning others to be careful what they put in their bodies.

Palmeiro has been rehabbing knee and ankle injuries in Texas and was expected to return to the team. But Beattie said yesterday that Palmeiro is not expected to play again this year.

"My understanding is I think he'll return to Baltimore, but I don't believe he'll be dressing again," Beattie said.

The team had been bracing for the possibility of a mixed reception within a clubhouse that once offered more support.

Palmeiro's return for the season's final 10 games could have been awkward, particularly since the recent disclosure that he named a teammate - Tejada - as he appealed his positive steroid test during a closed-door arbitration panel hearing.

The Sun reported yesterday that Palmeiro told the three-member arbitration panel several months ago that his positive steroid test came after a teammate gave him a substance that has now been identified as the B12.

The House Government Reform Committee has been interviewing players as it explores whether Palmeiro's story is valid and - if so - whether the supplement could be related to his positive drug test.

The committee's probe is part of a larger investigation of whether Palmeiro lied when he testified in March that he never used steroids. The committee has often said it would be difficult to prove a perjury case against him.

Palmeiro is not believed to have accused Tejada or any other Oriole of wrongdoing during the arbitration hearing. In fact, Palmeiro did not even argue during the hearing that the B-12 caused his positive test, according to people familiar with the hearing transcript.

For that reason, it is a mystery why Palmeiro brought up Tejada and the B12 at all.

The Washington law firm of Mayer, Brown, Rowe and Maw, which represents Palmeiro, issued a statement last night saying: "We are disturbed about the misleading reports being leaked by unnamed sources who claim knowledge of the investigation. Rafael Palmeiro has never implicated any player in the intentional use or distribution of steroids, or any other illegal substance, in any interview or testimony."

Vitamin B12 is found in animal foods including clams, liver, beef and fish. It helps maintain healthy nerves and red blood cells.

People with normal diets usually get enough of the vitamin. Nevertheless, B12 injections are thought by some athletes to increase energy and shorten muscles' recovery time after workouts.

Tejada said he gave the B12 to Palmeiro "a long time ago."

"I didn't give any steroids to anybody," the shortstop said after last night's loss to the Yankees in New York. "I didn't do anything wrong. I just gave him a B12 and B12 is legal."

Beattie said the B12 was investigated by baseball's Health Policy Advisory Committee, which oversees baseball's drug-testing program, and by the players union and Major League Baseball.

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

Sun reporter David Kohn contributed to this article.

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