Two U.S. congressmen sent a letter to baseball commissioner Bud Selig yesterday, requesting additional information on the suspension of Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro and on Major League Baseball's drug policy.
In the letter, Rep. Cliff Stearns, a Florida Republican who is chairman of the Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection Subcommittee, and Rep. Joe L. Barton, a Texas Republican who is chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, outlined eight questions they want answers to, most of them related to the timeline surrounding Palmeiro's positive steroid test.
But the letter also called for harsher penalties and an independent testing program, two things Selig has already come out in favor of. It's the second time members of Congress have asked MLB for information related to Palmeiro, who may be under investigation for perjury related to his testimony during a congressional hearing in March. The Committee on Government Reform had previously requested similar information.
"The suspension of eight major league baseball players, including Rafael Palmeiro, indicates that steroid use is still a problem in MLB," Stearns wrote. "This is especially troubling since Palmeiro vehemently denied using steroids during testimony at a congressional hearing. Stronger action is necessary to end the use of steroids in professional sports."
In the letter, Stearns and Barton said they want to know the date of Palmeiro's tests, who administered the tests and determined the results, on what date did those drug tests show a positive result, and on what date was Palmeiro informed of the results of the drug tests. They are also interested in finding out how much time elapsed between the date of the positive result in Palmeiro's case and when those positive results were made public.
Richard Levin, MLB spokesman, said the Committee on Government Reform requested the information by the end of this week and it will receive it by then. He said the commissioner's office also would send the information to Stearns' committee.
"We'll accommodate them as best as we can," Levin said. "As best as we can, we'll comply with all of the requests."
A spokesman for the Government Reform committee said he expects the Palmeiro test results by "Thursday or Friday."
According to multiple club officials, Palmeiro is still expected to return to the team tomorrow when his 10-day suspension is up, but exactly how his return will be handled is still up in the air. Manager Sam Perlozzo said yesterday that he had spoken with Palmeiro while the team was in Texas, and that the first baseman wants to return.
"I called just to tell him that my wife and I were thinking about him and his family and hoped the kids and everyone were doing OK and if he needed a talk to give me a call," Perlozzo said. "So he called me. He's looking forward to coming back. He said, 'Do you still want me?' and I said, 'You better believe it.'"
According to the Orioles, Palmeiro has been huddling with his representatives in advance of addressing the media upon his return. Orioles officials have also been involved in the discussions.
"We've been asked for some input," said Orioles spokesman Bill Stetka. "There's discussion amongst us with his agent. ... Ultimately, it's up to him [Palmeiro] and his advisers."
Sun staff writers Jeff Barker, Dan Connolly and Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.