Mitchell, a former federal prosecutor, is a director of the Boston Red Sox, and was chairman of The Walt Disney Co., the parent of ESPN, at the time Commissioner Bud Selig established the committee on March 30, 2006, charging it with leaving "no stone unturned" in its quest to determine what happened in baseball's so-called steroid era.
Several news outlets, including The Associated Press, are stating that up to 80 players will be listed in the report, including MVPs, All-Stars and some "very, very high-level names," although none of those names had surfaced as of late Wednesday night. The AP, quoting two sources, also said that the full report totaled 304 pages, plus exhibits. In recent years, such superstars as Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Jose Canseco and the late Ken Caminiti, among others, have all been linked to reports or have admitted their own steroid use.
Various news reports said Mitchell will make recommendations to Major League Baseball and the Players Association about how to shore up the current Major League drug policy.
ESPN.com also reported that Mitchell's report recommends that the management of the drug policy should be turned over to an independent agency and there should be an improved effort in educating players about drug use. Additionally, it's reported Mitchell will suggest greater transparency to the program by revealing the drug for which a player tests positive and improving to state-of-the-art testing with a greater incidence of year-round testing.
One of the keys to Mitchell's investigation seems to have been the willingness earlier this year of Kirk Radomski, a bat boy, equipment manager and clubhouse attendant for the Mets from 1985-95, to provide Mitchell with players' names as part of his plea bargain with the federal government in the case against the Bay Area Co-Operative Laboratory. Radomski pleaded guilty to providing players with performance-enhancing drugs during that period.
A national investigation into the illegal sale of steroids and human growth hormone by the Albany, N.Y., district attorney's office is believed to have also provided Mitchell with previously undisclosed names.
Names of nine former or current Major Leaguers have already surfaced from that investigation and Selig suspended two of those players -- Jose Guillen of the Royals and Jay Gibbons of the Orioles -- for 15 days each for the start of the 2008 season. Those suspensions may provide a road map for how the Commissioner will deal with other players named in Mitchell's report.
Mitchell reportedly will fault the sport's leadership -- from the Commissioner to the Players Association, club owners and general managers -- for allowing the culture of performance-enhancing drugs to grow in the late 1990s.
The report will be delivered with the backdrop of Bonds having just pleaded not guilty last week in a San Francisco federal court on four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice. Bonds' plea related to his own use of performance-enhancing drugs in testimony he gave four years ago before a grand jury investigating BALCO for money laundering and illegally selling performance-enhancing drugs without prescriptions.
Selig appointed Mitchell after he read the book "Game of Shadows," which documented the BALCO investigation, in which Bonds, Giambi and Sheffield were alleged to have used steroids.
While Mitchell's committee has never had subpoena power, he and his group of investigators have spent months and millions of dollars conducting interviews from the clubhouse to the front office as trainers, strength coaches, former players, general managers, managers and team presidents have all spent time answering queries.
And now, after 20 months of those questions, Thursday will bring some long-awaited answers.