Former Mariners outfielder Jose Guillen and two former Major League players -- Matt Williams and Ismael Valdez -- bought performance-enhancing drugs from a Florida clinic, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Tuesday. As has been the case involving six other players ensnared in a sting conducted by the Albany, N.Y., prosecutor's office, the purchases mostly occurred prior to Major League Baseball and its union beginning drug testing for steroids prior to the 2003 season. Human growth hormone, for which tests are considered unreliable, wasn't put on the list of banned substances until two years later. Citing confidential records, the Chronicle said Guillen -- whose option for 2008 was declined this week by the Mariners, making him a free agent -- purchased $19,000 worth of drugs from the Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center, which along with other anti-aging clinics and online pharmacies in Florida and Alabama, was targeted for illegal sales of drugs, including steroids and HGH. It was raided by Florida law enforcement agencies on Feb. 27.
Guillen reportedly purchased the drugs between May 2002 and June 2005, during which time he played for Arizona, Cincinnati, Oakland, the Angels and Washington. Williams was playing for the Diamondbacks in 2002 when he purchased $11,600 worth of HGH, steroids and other drugs, the Chronicle said, adding that Valdez bought $11,300 worth of performance-enhancing drugs in 2002 after he was traded from the Rangers to the Mariners. Some of the prescriptions were written by a Florida dentist whose license has since been suspended. The Chronicle reported last month that Cleveland pitcher Paul Byrd had purchased $25,000 worth of HGH using prescriptions from the same dentist. Byrd said at the time of the report that he was suffering from a pituitary gland problem, a shortage of growth hormone in his body, and that all the prescriptions were legal. Byrd has yet to be interviewed by Major League attorneys, a league official said this week. The Indians on Tuesday exercised their option on Byrd's contract for 2008. HGH can be purchased with a prescription, but it is not legally obtainable to help speed up healing from athletic injuries or for use as a performance-enhancer. By law, the drug can only be provided for dwarfism or stunted growth in children. Previous to Byrd, St. Louis outfielder Rick Ankiel, Baltimore outfielder Jay Gibbons, Mets pitcher Scott Schoeneweis, Toronto third baseman Troy Glaus and Angels outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. have been publicly associated with the Albany probe. Ankiel, Gibbons and Glaus met with MLB officials in September to discuss the matter, but no penalties have thus far been handed out. None of the athletes have been charged in the investigation, in which 10 people have already pleaded guilty to felony drug and fraud charges, and a dozen other suspects are awaiting trial. The latest news comes as former Sen. George Mitchell and his committee are in the final phases of putting together an extensive report on MLB's so-called steroid era. Mitchell was charged by Commissioner Bud Selig with conducting the investigation nearly 19 months ago. Selig said that he expects that report to be available by the end of the year.
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.