MLB-steroidsBALCO prosecutors put MLB drug testing program in jeopardy, says commissioner Bud Selig in his letter addressed to legislators.

The letter dated June 27 was a response to the request of Reps. Henry Waxman and Tom Davis, leaders of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, who demanded an explanation last month for a loophole in the league’s testing programs for anabolic steroids and other banned drugs.

Selig strongly stated in his letter that the seizure of more than 100 drug test results at the height of the BALCO investigation jeopardized the anonymity promised to players for the 2003 survey testing.

“To the best of our knowledge, the seizure of baseball’s testing records in the BALCO investigation was the first time that law-enforcement officials had sought large numbers of records from a private employer’s workplace drug-testing program as part of a criminal investigation,” Selig wrote in his letter to Waxman and Davis. “As a result, Major League players faced the realistic prospect of criminal prosecution based on evidence from a drug test that they were promised would be anonymous.

“In addition,” Selig continued, “the seizure undermined representations made to players that drug-testing records would be confidential…. It is no exaggeration to say that the seizure threatened the continued viability of the entire drug-testing program.”

The representatives also asked Selig why a union official gave some players advance notice of testing in 2004, as alleged in the Mitchell Report. Selig answered that the allegation “came as a complete surprise to me and to all of us in the commissioner’s office.”

The BALCO investigation is considered to be the biggest steroid scandal in US sporting history. In June 2003, sprint coach Trevor Graham made an anonymous call to the United States Anti-Doping Agency. Graham spoke of a designer steroid that was being used by a number of athletes. The designer steroid was called The Clear, which was later identified as tetrahydrogestrinone.

Subsequent investigations came up with paper trail and other evidence of prevalent steroid use in professional sports. Soon, notable athletes from diverse sporting fields had emerged, including those in MLB.