MLB union: End of drug case ‘significant victory’

Following the end of a seven-year legal fight, the head of

baseball’s players’ union hailed a ruling that federal agents

illegally seized the test results and samples from what was

supposed to be an anonymous 2003 survey.

Union head Michael Weiner said in a statement Tuesday ”this is

a significant victory for our members.”

The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in September that

the seizure of a list of players who allegedly tested positive for

steroids and corresponding urine samples was unlawful. The 90-day

period expired Monday for the federal government to ask the Supreme

Court to review that decision.

The Justice Department had said Friday it would not contest the

appellate ruling.

”We are pleased that the government has decided not to pursue

this case any further and to let this long legal battle end,”

Weiner said. ”Players were promised that these 2003 test results

would be anonymous and confidential. We have always believed that

the seizures were improper and violated the rights of the players

and the MLBPA.”

Before the union could supervise the destruction of the test

results and samples late in 2003, it became aware of the Bay Area

Laboratory Co-Operative investigation. After months of fruitless

negotiations, federal agents obtained search warrants and subpoenas

for the records of 10 players and raided the offices of Quest

Diagnostics and Comprehensive Drug Testing in April 2004.

Led by then-IRS Special Agent Jeff Novitzky, they examined a

spreadsheet containing the drug-testing records of all 104 baseball

players alleged to have tested positive, mixed in on a computer

with records from other sports and businesses. Agents then obtained

additional search warrants and seized the corresponding urine


Testing was part of baseball’s effort to determine whether a

stricter drug-testing policy was needed. Because 5 percent or more

of the tests for steroids came back positive, it automatically

triggered the start of testing with penalties in 2004.

Three district courts ruled the seizures illegal. A three-judge

panel of the 9th Circuit upheld the searches, but the larger panel

voted 9-2 for the union in August 2009, then upheld its own

decision this September in a revised opinion that removed

guidelines for future searches from the majority opinion.

While the case has been in the courts, the identities of six

players alleged to be on the list became public: Jason Grimsley,

David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, David Segui and Sammy