"The number of players on the so-called 'government list' meaningfully exceeds the number of players agreed by the bargaining parties to have tested positive in 2003," said Michael Weiner, the incoming executive director of the union, who was to be at the media conference with Ortiz. "Accordingly, the presence of a player's name on any such list does not necessarily mean that the player used a prohibited substance or that the player tested positive under our collectively bargained program."
MLB reiterated that position, as follows:
"It should be pointed out that the names on the list, which was prepared by the federal government and not by anyone associated with our Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, are subject to uncertainties with regard to the test results. There are more names on the government list (104) than the maximum number of positives that were recorded under the 2003 program (96). And, as the Mitchell Report made clear, some of the 96 positives were contested by the union.
"Given the uncertainties inherent in the list, we urge the press and the public to use caution in reaching conclusions based on leaks of names, particularly from sources whose identities are not revealed."
The report about Ortiz surfaced last month in a story published by The New York Times. According to lawyers who spoke to the Times, and whose names were not revealed, Ortiz and Manny Ramirez are on the list of 104 players who tested positive -- testing that was agreed to and conducted only on the condition that the results would remain anonymous. Ortiz said at the time that he had tested positive and would release more information when he had it.
The list is sealed by a court order and prevents the union from confirming any names reported to be on the list. It also prevents the union from giving specifics to any player about the type of drug for which he might have tested positive.
"The result is that any union member alleged to have tested positive in 2003 because his name supposedly appears on some list -- most recently David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez -- finds himself in an extremely unfair position; his reputation has been threatened by a violation of the court's orders, but respect for those orders now leaves him without access to the information that might permit him to restore his good name," Weiner said.
Previously, the names of Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Jason Grimsley and David Segui were reported as having been on the list of 104 players. Ortiz and Ramirez were members of the Red Sox at the time and in 2004 helped the club end an 86-year streak in which it hadn't won a World Series.
In 2003, 5-7 percent of the players tested positive for using performance-enhancing drugs, reaching a threshold that led to the establishment of MLB's current drug policy, which includes random testing and was renegotiated three times. In '03, there were no punitive measures and the names were not supposed to be disclosed. Suspensions and/or fines began in '04.
Regarding the '03 results, the Players Association did not destroy the test results, and officers of the federal government, investigating the case against the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, seized them under a warrant. They are still in government possession, and the union continues to contest the seizure, with the case still at the federal appellete court level.
"Substantial scientific questions exist as to the interpretation of some of the 2003 test results," Weiner said. "The more definitive methods that are utilized by the lab that administers the current Drug Agreement were not utilized by the lab responsible for the anonymous testing program in 2003. The collective bargaining parties did not pursue definitive answers regarding these inconclusive results, since those answers were unnecessary to the administration of the 2003 program.
"In 2003, legally available nutritional supplements could trigger an initial 'positive' test under our program. To account for this, each 'test' conducted in 2003 actually consisted of a pair of collections: the first was unannounced and random, the second was approximately 7 days later, with the player advised to cease taking supplements during the interim. Under the 2003 program, a test could be initially reported as 'positive,' but not treated as such by the bargaining parties on account of the second test."