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Transcript: Lawmakers Discuss Steroids in Baseball
Written by Chris Wallace / Published August 08, 2005 / Fox News Sunday
The following is a transcript from "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace" on August 7, 2005:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
RAFAEL PALMEIRO, BASEBALL PLAYER, BALTIMORE ORIOLES: I have never used steroids, period. I do not know how to say it any more clearly than that.
PALMEIRO: I am here to make it clear that I have never intentionally used steroids — never, ever, period.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: Well, what a difference a few months make. That was Baltimore Orioles player Rafael Palmeiro (search), first testifying before Congress in March and then Monday after he was suspended for using steroids.
Did Palmeiro lie under oath, and will Congress now take a tougher stand on drugs and sports? Here to discuss the issue are Congressman Tom Davis (search), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, and from Cincinnati, Senator Jim Bunning (search), a former big league pitcher and member of the Hall of Fame.
Gentlemen, welcome to both of you. Thanks for coming on today.
REP. TOM DAVIS, R-VA.: Good morning.
SEN. JIM BUNNING, R-KY.: Thank you, Chris.
WALLACE: Congressman Davis, you talked personally with Palmeiro this week after it turned out that he had used steroids. What did he tell you about the steroid found in his system, and what did he say about how it got there?
DAVIS: Well, he didn't get into that. He basically volunteered to make all of the records that Major League Baseball (search) had on his previous testing and current testing available to us voluntarily — we wouldn't have to subpoena them — and maintained his innocence, that he didn't knowingly take them.
WALLACE: Now, you say that you have some independent evidence of how that Stanozolol (search) got into his system. Any credible way that it could have been inadvertent, as he says?
DAVIS: Well, I don't think it was inadvertent in terms of getting in. I know he knew he was taking something. I think there is line of argument that we see that he might have been ingesting something he didn't.
But, you know, you still have a huge incongruity between that...
WALLACE: You say ingesting something he couldn't — that somehow it was misrepresented to him?
DAVIS: Correct. I think that will be one of the lines that they'll take in — that he's taken in his appeals process.
WALLACE: Namely what, that he thought...
DAVIS: We're going to have to look at and interview the people in involved.
WALLACE: But that he thought he was taking X and in fact it turned out to be Y?
DAVIS: I think that's what we're going to find...
WALLACE: Kind of tough to believe for a professional ball player, isn't it?
DAVIS: Well, it's hard for the public when you have a statement he's never taken it and two months later he's tested positive.
And we also don't know how long that can stay in the system. We don't know exactly when the tests were taken.
We have a duty to investigate this further, obviously.
WALLACE: Now, Palmeiro has said that he is going to turn over all information about his drug tests. Has he turned over that information yet? And if not, is there a timetable for doing so?
DAVIS: He has given a release to Major League Baseball. I've spoken with the commissioner in the commissioner's office, and we think by the end of this week we'll have all the relevant documents. And we'll start going through it, and from that point on our attorneys and investigators may do some interviews.
WALLACE: By the end of this week?
DAVIS: We'll start by the end of this week.
WALLACE: And is he going to turn over just information about this drug test or about his whole history?
DAVIS: It'll be the — everything will be released.
WALLACE: OK. And finally, before we bring in Senator Bunning, do you have any intentions at this point to call Palmeiro back before your committee?
And in addition, now that a federal investigation into the so- called BALCO case is over, will you call the star players involved in that case — Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield — will you call those athletes before you committee?
DAVIS: We don't have the intention to do it at this point, but we've reserved that right.
As you know, we originally had subpoenaed Jason Giambi and the Justice Department asked us not to do that, so we withheld.
Right now we're interested in moving forward on legislation that we sponsored in the House; Senator Bunning sponsored in the Senate. We still think this is a huge problem.
WALLACE: All right, let's bring in Senator Bunning.
Senator, you obviously have a foot in both camps as a former star player and member of the Hall of Fame and now a U.S. senator. Let me ask you big-picture first.
Pro sports has management, it has unions, it has collective bargaining. Why should government get involved in this area?
BUNNING: They shouldn't, unless necessary. And we would rather all the professional sports toughen up their steroid penalties. If they would do it on their own, I would applaud them.
But unfortunately, major league baseball, major league football, major league basketball and on down the line — and I include all major league sports — have not done that.
So, who is it left up to? It's left up to the Congress to make sure that the integrity of the game is there and that the children that watch the game and idolize all of these players that they're watching don't try to emulate them and also do steroids.
The harmful use of steroids will eventually catch up with the adults, but it really has a devastating effect on kids.
WALLACE: Senator, you proposed tough new legislation in June that would model drug testing in pro sports after the Olympic model. First of all, all professional athletes in these team sports would be tested without notice three times a year.
And let's take a look, if we can, at the penalties — your proposed penalties. Athletes testing positive would be suspended two years for a first offense under the Bunning plan. Now in baseball they only get 10 days. And for a second offense, you would ban them permanently, which of course is much tougher than baseball.
Senator, why such a hard line?
BUNNING: The hard line is for the good of the kids. We don't want children, high school or college players trying to boost their ability to make it into the major leagues, minor leagues or what.
Chris, this year 85 people at the minor-league level have tested positive for some steroid. That's the minor league baseball system. Now, that means to me that everybody is trying to get an edge to get to the major leagues, where the big bucks are.
And so what we want to do is say, "You can't do this. This is absolutely unacceptable."
I wish you could've sat in last Sunday night when all the members of the Baseball Hall of Fame got together for their private dinner and heard the discussion for one hour with Bud Selig and the concern that these Hall-of-Famers were expressing about the steroid use in baseball and the integrity of the game and the records that are being challenged by certain players that looked like they might be on steroids.
WALLACE: Let me ask you about that, Senator. I mean, how much does the use of steroids taint this entire era of baseball? And what do you and what do your fellow alumni in the Hall of Fame, what do you think about this question of records and of entrance to the Hall of Fame?
BUNNING: Well, we don't know the facts. And when we get the facts, then we can make a decision.
We have a superstar, Rafael Palmiero, who looked right into the camera and said, "I have never used steroids." And then two months later, he tested positive for one of the most egregious steroids that you could possibly use. And then he takes the, "I'm a victim; somebody gave it to me."
Well, that's unacceptable. And American people will not accept that. And I don't believe our young fans and young people in high school and college will accept that.
And therefore, if baseball won't fix itself or football won't fix itself, or basketball, then it's up to the Congress to do something about it. My bill and John McCain's bill, we're going to have a hearing on it the first two weeks of September.
And we might call whoever we choose to call. But I think it would be important if we called medical people that daily have contact with these superstar players.
WALLACE: Senator, let me bring in Congressman Davis.
You have legislation very similar to the senators in terms of really cracking down, two-year penalty, life-time for a second offense. Are you prepared to pass that legislation as the chairman of your committee? And if so, under what kind of a timetable?
DAVIS: It's through the committee. It's cleared the committee; it's waiting for floor action.
As you know, the Commerce Committee has competing legislation that does much of the same thing. We need to iron out those differences.
And we're hopeful of putting it through the House sometime in the September-October time frame.
WALLACE: You're talking about doing it this year?
DAVIS: Yes, we are.
WALLACE: Who do you blame for all this, Congressman? Do you blame the individual players? Do you blame Major League Baseball, which in fact benefited after the 1994 strike from the long ball and all the records and all the excitement? Or do you blame the union, which some people say is more interested in covering up for its players than protecting their health?
DAVIS: Well, I think they all share the blame. It's been a system that's been a don't-ask-don't-tell system. When Major League Baseball tried to get a hold of it, the union resisted.
Even now, Commissioner Selig has put forward some pretty tough arrangements, and the union won't agree to that. And I think that's the reason Congress has to step in.
WALLACE: And finally, Congressman Davis, from what you know so far, do you think that Rafael Palmiero, when he stood up and swore to take the oath before your committee, do you think Rafael Palmiero committed perjury?
DAVIS: We're a long way from that at this point. But there are certainly some incongruities in his statement, and we have a duty to investigate. And it's just premature to make that charge.
WALLACE: Are you prepared — perjury in congressional testimony is unusual — are you prepared to take this as far as it goes?
DAVIS: This is by the book. We're going to go straight by the book, do our investigation. The procedure would be, if we determine that there's probable cause to believe perjury was committed, we would refer it to the U.S. attorney here in the District of Columbia, and he would then make the decision whether to go ahead.
WALLACE: Congressman Davis, Senator Bunning, I want to thank you both so much for spending time with us today — important subject.
BUNNING: Thanks, Chris.
DAVIS: Thank you.
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