WASHINGTON – Congressional investigators looking into whether Rafael Palmeiro (search) lied under oath are interviewing players who know him, including a Colorado outfielder suspended this year for steroids, The Associated Press has learned.
Palmeiro testified to the House Government Reform Committee in March that he never had used steroids (search). The Baltimore Orioles slugger, one of four players in history with 3,000 hits and 500 homers, was suspended by Major League Baseball (search) for 10 days in August for failing a drug test.
A congressional source familiar with the committee's work, speaking to the AP on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, said Monday that "several active players" have spoken or will speak with the committee. That source would not identify who was interviewed.
But a baseball source, also speaking to the AP on condition of anonymity because the inquiry is ongoing, said Colorado Rockies outfielder Jorge Piedra (search) spoke on the phone with the committee within the last week.
Piedra, who has trained with Palmeiro in the offseason, was suspended for 10 days in April for a positive steroid test, the second player to be publicly identified under the sport's new rules.
The congressional source indicated that all the players asked to talk to the committee recently were chosen because they have relationships with Palmeiro — such as teammates or workout partners — and could have knowledge about whether he might have used steroids before his testimony.
On March 17, Palmeiro appeared before the Government Reform Committee alongside Mark McGwire (search) and Sammy Sosa (search), pointed his finger for emphasis and declared: "I have never used steroids. Period."
On Aug. 1, baseball announced his suspension. Palmeiro stood by his statements to Congress, saying he didn't know what caused the test result.
When he returned to the Orioles after his ban, Palmeiro said he would not speak about the case until Congress concludes its perjury investigation.
Palmeiro has not been interviewed by the committee since he was suspended, but he did agree to allow Major League Baseball to turn over his test results and other documents to Congress, and the committee has praised him for being cooperative.
It doesn't appear likely that Government Reform would hold another hearing on steroids in the near future, because chairman Tom Davis (search), R-Va., will be running hearings on the response to Hurricane Katrina.