Mitchell group meets with prosecutors

Mitchell group meets with prosecutors

Members of the committee headed by Sen. George Mitchell met with representatives of the Albany, N.Y., prosecutor's office on Thursday as a two-year-old probe into the Internet sale of performance-enhancing drugs continues.

Mitchell committee members met with District Attorney P. David Soares' office only days after two Albany-based attorneys representing Major League Baseball met with the D.A.

A baseball official confirmed that the local lawyers speaking on behalf of MLB met to determine whether there was any way the sport could help the prosecutor, who has already woven players Rick Ankiel, Jay Gibbons, Troy Glaus and Gary Matthews Jr. into his case.

All four players are in the process of being called in front of representatives of the Commissioner's office to answer questions about their involvement with the procurement of human growth hormone or anabolic steroids during a period from 2003-05, the baseball official said.

Matthews and Ankiel have been tied by reports to the purchase of HGH, while Gibbons and Glaus reportedly procured anabolic steroids and/or testosterone via prescriptions written by doctors thru various clinics that were all filled by Signature Pharmacy, an Orlando-based firm that does business via the Internet.

But none of the athletes involved has been charged in the Albany probe. Despite the contact, matters remain status quo between the district attorney's office and MLB, the baseball official said.

"There are still rules of engagement and how it seems that we're going to work together that have to be discussed, and if there's anything they can offer us in helping us with our case," Soares told The Associated Press prior to Thursday's meeting.

Mitchell's committee was charged by Commissioner Bud Selig nearly 18 months ago with investigating MLB's so-called steroid era and to produce a report, which could be available by the end of the year.

Thus far, Mitchell has had belated cooperation from the owners and the clubs, who were chided by Mitchell and Selig for not fully participating in the investigation this past January at an owners' meeting in Phoenix. The players, on the advice of their union, have offered little cooperation to the committee, which has reportedly interviewed only one current player: Jason Giambi.

Earlier this season, Selig reportedly threatened to suspend Giambi if he didn't testify before the committee. The directive came after Giambi met separately with baseball officials and was asked about comments he made regarding his own steroid use in USA Today.

Giambi talked to Mitchell with the proviso that he didn't have to testify about drug use by other players. Selig ultimately declined to suspend Giambi.

The committee has no legal standing and thus can't compel players to testify or produce medical documents, which are protected by federal privacy laws.

Ankiel said last week after the story about his HGH involvement became public that he would be willing to cooperate with MLB in any fashion if asked. Glaus and Gibbons have been mum on the subject. Since the Matthews story broke in February, the Angels center fielder has told MLB through his attorney that he wasn't willing to cooperate because he was a target of the Albany investigation.

But the Los Angeles Times reported on Thursday that Matthews is not a target of that investigation nor is any other athlete, citing an e-mail response from a member of District Attorney's office.

"No athletes are the target," the e-mail read. "We are unaware of any criminal investigation targeting Gary Matthews Jr."

Through cooperation between the Albany D.A. and the National Football League, that liaison led to the recent suspensions of New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison and Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson, who both admitted procuring HGH from the Florida pharmacy.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.