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IRS seizes MLB drug test results04/10/2004 6:36 PM ET
SAN FRANCISCO -- Federal authorities have seized the results and samples of drug tests of several Major League players who testified last winter to a grand jury that investigated and brought charges against an alleged steroid distribution ring.
Internal Revenue Service agents seized a handful of players' urine samples, documentation and test results from Quest Diagnostics' laboratory in Las Vegas on Thursday, said Gary Samuels, a company spokesman, according to published reports. Quest tested urine samples of Major League players last season.
IRS agents served a search warrant to obtain "documentation and specimens," Samuels said. He would not say whether IRS agents took the drug-test results or specimen of the Giants' Barry Bonds, but said the agents took materials consistent with a federal subpoena that had sought test results and specimens from Bonds and fewer than a dozen other players.
The New York Times reported that the players whose specimens were seized at Quest included Bonds, Jason and Jeremy Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Benito Santiago, Armando Rios, Marvin Benard, Bobby Estalella and Randy Velarde, as well as a handful of other players whose names have not been made public.
"This is much bigger than me," Sheffield told reporters after Saturday's game. "I just have to let everything take its course."
According to the Times, the United States attorney's office in San Francisco would not comment on what it intends to do with the specimens taken Thursday, but it is widely believed that the samples were sought to determine if any of the athletes who testified before the federal grand jury perjured themselves.
The raid occurred Thursday, shortly after the Major League Baseball Players Association filed a motion in a San Francisco court seeking to quash a subpoena seeking the specimens, the Times reported.
"Today is the first I've heard about it," Giambi said Saturday. "I'm not worried about it. I'm here to play ball."
IRS spokesman Mark Lessler and U.S. Attorney's spokeswoman Ji-Yon Yi both said Friday in published reports that they could not comment. Bonds declined to comment when asked by MLB.com.
Samuels said the IRS agents served the search warrant on the Quest lab after obtaining a coded list from California-based Comprehensive Drug Testing that matched players to the results and the samples.
Teterboro, N.J.-based Quest and Comprehensive Drug Testing, of Long Beach, Calif, did the tests last year for Major League Baseball, which was trying to determine the prevalence of steroid use among players. When more than five percent of those tests came back positive, MLB began a new testing program this season that includes punishments for those caught using steroids.
The tests were supposed to remain anonymous. But the federal grand jury in San Francisco that issued indictments in February against four men for allegedly distributing steroids to professional athletes sought the results as part of its probe.
One of those indicted Feb. 12 was Greg Anderson, the personal trainer for Bonds -- who, along with Sheffield, Giambi and dozens of other pro athletes, testified before the grand jury.
The grand jury's probe focuses on the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative and has led to charges against four men: BALCO founder Victor Conte, BALCO vice president James Valente, track coach Remi Korchemny and Anderson. All have pleaded innocent and are free on bail.
Bonds, Sheffield and Giambi have not been charged in the case and repeatedly have denied using steroids.
Rob Manfred, MLB's executive vice president for labor relations, said Monday that approximately 500 urine samples remain from last year's drug tests. He could not say if samples for Bonds, Sheffield, Giambi and the other players named in the subpoena are among that batch.
Two samples were taken from each of the more than 1,400 Major League players last season. Most were destroyed, but about 500 were saved when the grand jury issued its subpoena.
Since two tests were taken on each player, the surviving tests could have come from as few as 250 players -- or as many as 500.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.