Written by A.C. Schupe
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Sunday, 6 January 2008

Former Senator George J. Mitchell released a blistering report Thursday that tied 89 Major League Baseball players, including Babe Ruth and Roger Clemens, to the use of illegal, performance-enhancing substances. The report used informant testimony and supporting documents to provide a richly detailed portrait of what Mr. Mitchell described as ''baseball's history of substance abuse.''

Mr. Ruth, winner of 12 home run titles, was the most prominent name on the list.

Mr. Mitchell's report of about 400 pages was based on interviews with more than 700 people, including 60 former players, and 115,000 pages of documents, including receipts, canceled checks, telephone records and e-mail messages and letters.

The report describes how Mr. Ruth, The Sultan of Swat, took illegal substances hundreds of times from 1914 through 1935. The report is littered with vivid details on how Ruth mixed performance enhancing substances into his beer, and injected them into his frankfurters. The report dispels the myth of Ruth's legendary hunger for beer and frankfurters, and shows the real reason behind his legendary appetite.

"For someone like Babe Ruth, who certainly looked robust, the likelihood that he was not using performance enhancing substances would be a stretch," Mitchell said, noting that he had not seen Ruth's autopsy.

Mr. Ruth has not made himself available for comment.

In his comments at a Midtown Manhattan hotel Thursday, Mr. Mitchell acknowledged that his report was inhibited by limited cooperation from Ruth's peers, because they are all dead. ''It is obvious that there was a collective failure to recognize Ruth's problem as it emerged and to deal with it early on,'' Mr. Mitchell said.

Donald M. Fehr, the executive director of the Major League Players' Association, said he did not think the investigation was fair. ''Many players were named,'' Mr. Fehr said. ''The Bambino's reputation has been adversely affected, probably forever, even if it turns out down the road that it should not have been.''

In a "60 Minutes" report on substance abuse in baseball that will be shown on CBS on Sunday night, letters dug up by the Mitchell commission show the former Yankee home run king admitting he had mixed foreign substances into beer and frankfurters. But he says beer and franks, not performance enhancing substances, as alleged in the report, was the reason for his addiction.

In the "60 Minutes" report, Mr. Ruth's Great-Great-Grandson, Baby Ruth, said that Mitchell's claim is "ridiculous," and that his family's patriarch never used any banned substances. He questions the credibility of Mitchell, and says "at the end of the day, everyone is going to discover Mitchell is wrong."

The show concludes the report by saying the new home run king, Barry Bonds, is indeed the most prolific home run hitter in baseball history.

Researched by Andy Schupak

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