View Full Version : Buster Olney's piece titled "Mitchell's burden of proof"

cincinnati chili
08-23-2007, 05:46 PM
I don't have insider but read the teaser and it sounds interesting. Can someone who has insider access summarize this story?:

http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=2987826&name=olney_buster&CMP=ILC-INHEAD&action=login&appRedirect=http%3a%2f%2finsider.espn.go.com%2fesp n%2fblog%2findex%3fentryID%3d2987826%26name%3dolne y_buster%26CMP%3dILC-INHEAD

08-23-2007, 05:52 PM

Mitchell's burden of proofposted: Thursday, August 23, 2007 | Feedback | Print Entry

Imagine if your boss opened an internal investigation, hiring a firm to generate a report on the drug history of all the employees. Not a legal report, which would be bound, in practice, by standards of proof and standards of the law, but merely a treatise.

Imagine if, along the way, these private investigators tried to access your medical records -- first without your consent, and then by pressuring you and your union. Imagine that a co-worker decided to cooperate with the investigators and produced a list of employees who used drugs. Or, at least, he said they did.

Imagine that there was a possibility this list of names would be published in the local newspaper, despite the fact that a lot of the details about a lot of the allegations could not be independently verified. Imagine the co-worker gave them your name. And imagine the allegation just happened to be wrong, nothing close to the complete truth, nothing close to the full context. You could be smeared for life.

A whole lot of baseball players don't have to imagine this. There is fear among some players that this is about to happen, in what apparently are the final days of former Sen. George Mitchell's steroids investigation.

SI.com reported this week that Kirk Radomski, a former Mets batboy, has provided a list of names to Mitchell's investigators. "When you see the list, it's going to blow your mind," a Radomski associate said.

Separate from that report, some executives and players have indicated the investigators have been asking for details about the steroid use of other players -- and in some cases, simple speculation about who has used steroids.

On one hand, the Mitchell investigation is handicapped by the fact that it is not a legal body. It does not have subpoena power like a prosecuting attorney or a congressman leading a committee would have. But on the other hand, the fact that they are not bound by any legal standards of proof or ethics gives the Mitchell investigators incredible freedom in generating their final report.

Say Radomski gave the investigators 50 names, for argument's sake. And let's say that through the investigators' other work, they generated leads on another 250 names. There does not appear to be anything preventing the Mitchell investigators, in their final report, from merely casting out 300 names of players believed, due to the allegations of others, to have used steroids.

If the report says, "Mr. Radomski says he sold steroids to Mr. John Doe," there really is no recourse for Mr. Doe or the union. There is nothing they can do to prevent allegations from being printed.

There is enormous power in that.

In the legal world, a case of steroid use against Mr. Doe -- let's say he's a slugger who has more than 400 career homers -- has to be solid enough to meet the burden of proof. A prosecutor needs some corroborating evidence -- a signed invoice, a canceled check. And someone with Radomski's checkered background would have to testify, through cross-examination, in support of his allegations. Imagine that, a decade ago, Mr. Doe stiffed Radomski in some way.

Imagine that Mr. Doe failed to give Radomski a good tip for batboy services or just treated Radomski poorly. Could there be a better way for Radomski to extract some revenge than by including Mr. Doe on a list of guys he says used steroids? The fairest way for something like that to come out is through cross-examination. But that can't happen in the world of the Mitchell investigation.

In the legal world, proving that someone actually used steroids is exceptionally difficult, because while you might have a canceled check -- a strong indicator something might have happened -- it is not proof.

But the standard of proof, for the Mitchell investigators, apparently is something they will make up for themselves. If Radomski said he gave steroids to Mr. Doe, there is nothing to stop the investigators from including this in their final report. Radomski's allegations, or others' allegations, could go unchallenged, in theory. The Mitchell investigators have asked for the cooperation of players, and a notation that Mr. Doe and others declined to testify conceivably could be the only counterweight to others' allegations.

It could be that former Sen. Mitchell will impose a high standard of proof, and a high standard of fairness, in his final report. He could omit all names except in those cases in which his investigators generated absolute proof of steroid use. It is possible to generate a fair and circumspect analysis of what has occurred during the steroid era, but to do so probably would require the Mitchell investigators to lock away hundreds of examples of anecdotal evidence of steroid use, for want of proof.

But if there is not a high standard of proof, if there is not a high standard of fairness, then allegations and names could be cast out with newspaper headlines. And if that ever occurrs, then baseball could be the source of the gaudiest case of McCarthyism since, well, McCarthy.

08-23-2007, 06:20 PM
I never realized I had this much imagination.....wait until I tell my boss.....I'm gonna need a raise.

:D :D :D :D :D :D

Let's say, Buster, that the reporters refused to preint unverified facts......ooops....is that maybe the issue here?

cincinnati chili
08-23-2007, 06:41 PM
Thanks for sharing.