The U.S. Attorney's office in San Francisco issued a statement yesterday questioning the accuracy of a Los Angeles Times report published over the weekend. The story identified major league baseball players, including three Orioles, whose names had been blacked out of a steroid investigation affidavit filed earlier this year in federal court.
The Times report described a search warrant affidavit signed by an IRS special agent investigating steroid use in professional baseball. The affidavit, based on statements to investigators allegedly made by pitcher Jason Grimsley, implicated a number of his former teammates as users of performance-enhancing drugs. Grimsley acknowledged using them himself, according to the affidavit.
All of the players' names were blacked out when the affidavit was made public in June, prompting speculation throughout baseball over who was listed. The Times consulted two sources familiar with the contents of the affidavits, including one with authorized access to the document who confirmed names to a reporter.
In its published report, the Times said that among those who had been named by Grimsley, according to the affidavit, were the Orioles' Miguel Tejada, Jay Gibbons and Brian Roberts and Houston Astros pitchers Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte. The story also said Grimsley told investigators that former New York Yankees trainer Brian McNamee referred him to a source for steroids and amphetamines.
U.S. Attorney Kevin V. Ryan, the prosecutor who is leading the investigation, issued a brief statement yesterday: "In view of the recent reports purporting to identify certain athletes whose names had been redacted from the government's search warrant filings in the Grimsley matter, and in the interest of justice, please be advised that these reports contain significant inaccuracies."
When reached by phone last night, Gibbons was angered - and sarcastic.
"What a shocker. This is all inaccurate?" Gibbons said. "Like I said before, this is a complete joke."
Roberts did not want to comment and Tejada could not be reached to comment.
All three have denied using anabolic steroids.
Through a spokesman, Ryan declined to answer any questions and would not disclose what names, if any, or other aspects of the story were among the alleged significant inaccuracies.
The Times responded with a statement late yesterday: "We take seriously that the U.S. Attorney's office has questioned our story. We are continuing to report on this important subject."
Clemens called the story "dangerous and malicious and reckless." Federal agents raided Grimsley's Arizona home in June after the pitcher admitted using human growth hormone, steroids and amphetamines.
The pitcher, who played with Clemens and Pettitte on the Yankees, and with Roberts, Tejada and Gibbons on the Orioles, later was released by the Arizona Diamondbacks and suspended for 50 games.
In a search warrant affidavit, IRS Special Agent Jeff Novitzky, the lead investigator in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative steroids probe, said Grimsley had identified other players as drug users, the Times reported.
"As I have said all along, and as Andy and Roger said quite clearly yesterday, they have never used performance-enhancing drugs," Randy Hendricks, the agent for Pettitte and Clemens, said yesterday.
He added that Clemens "signed up to play for his country in the World Baseball Classic this year and submitted to Olympic standard testing, including blood work, and then went out and had another good year for the Astros."
Sun reporter Dan Connolly and the Associated Press contributed to this article.