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Grand Jury Leaks

A good point from Mark Kleiman -- the fact that prosecutors routinely leak grand jury testimony, at least in high-profile cases, is really a much bigger scandal than is anything to do with steroid use in Major League Baseball. But of course a sports scandal will attract all the heat. On the underlying issue of the steroids, I suppose I have mixed feelings. More clear is the fact that insofar as a sport's organizing body has established rules for itself, those rules ought to be enforced properly.

December 6, 2004 | Permalink


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Does anyone else think that John McCain is being a pandering punk with this bill of his? I would think that this is exactly the kind of irrelevant legislation that he would usually rail against.

Posted by: Mithras | Dec 6, 2004 10:00:09 AM

Does anyone else think that John McCain is being a pandering punk

Because that would be SOOOOO out-of-character for him. *rolling eyes*

Posted by: Al | Dec 6, 2004 10:17:36 AM

Ken Starr was not a prosecutor seeking the truth. Ken Starr was a political hatchet man determined to ruin Bill Clinton and anyone who stood in his way. The ugly facts are out there in "The Hunting of the President" by Conason and Lyons and the down to earth story of Susan McDougal, "The Woman Who Wouldn't Talk: Why I Refused to Testify Against the Clintons & What I Learned in Jail"

Then there is the way Starr treated Julie Hyatt Steele. The prosecutors were definately out of control.

Posted by: bakho | Dec 6, 2004 10:20:11 AM

The steroids issue is, however, a really good philosophical topic, that brings in many current conflicts which are likely do get much bigger in the future with technology. The Natural vs. the artificial, and what that means, evolution, genetic mutations, artificial and otherwise.
It seems settled that Lance Armstrong was justified in winning his tours although it is unlikely that he would have won without the medical treatments that saved his life (his body weight was significantly higher pre-treatment -- he was a fantastic talent, but too not ideal for the rigorous climbs of the tour). If Armstrong had instead had similar surgeries without the threat of cancer, would their legitimacy be so clear cut? IMO, this is fascinating ethical terrain, and likely to grow more important as technology enforces the actual way of the world while making people's misperceptions of it more obviously incoherent.
The coming cultural battle is materialism vs. the soul, and right now the the soul has an enormous advantage in terms of its grip on the American people.
Sorry if that is a little tangential.

Posted by: theCoach | Dec 6, 2004 10:33:30 AM

If my life depended on a correct answer on whether Lance Armstrong uses performance-enhancing drugs, I'd go with the affirmative. Credible accusations have been made against Armstrong, and other cyclists have confessed to doping after years of passing the piss tests. Not that this makes Lance a bad guy; quite the contrary, it means (if true) that you can't be a winning cyclist without doping.

There's simply a lot more money to be made in concocting undetectable drugs than there is in drug tests. As long as this state of affairs persists (and it's hard to see what would change the balance), doping will be ubiquitous in sports.

Posted by: son volt | Dec 6, 2004 11:19:28 AM

Why are steroids illegal anyway?

Because they're dangerous and can lead to early death? Well, there is also beer, cigs and Big Macs.

Because they're man-made chemicals that enhance performance? Oh well, there's creatine, caffeine supplements, lactic acid buffers all of which are legal and common.

The only reason that I can think is that legalized steroids don't exist is that it may entice high school athletes or amateur athletes into using them. Oh wait, they already are.

Oh well. The perfect application for libertarianism (there aren't that many).

Posted by: Hank Porter | Dec 6, 2004 11:44:09 AM

One thing to add that I forgot to before: the assumption here is that the prosecutors leaked the material. While that is POSSIBLE, I'm not sure it is the most probable location of the leak. The defense has ALREADY been in court to throw out the charges due to leaks. And just before these leaks, the judge said no. Now the defense is going right back to the judge and will argue that the prosecution is still leaking. Did the prosecution REALLY want to risk the judge dismissing the whole case? I doubt it. More likely it was someone unrelated to either side: transcription service or something like that.

Posted by: Al | Dec 6, 2004 11:47:37 AM

Al--Read what Mark says. The amount of people who have these docmunts maybe numbers 40.

Posted by: Rob | Dec 6, 2004 11:59:14 AM

son vault,
Just to be clear, my invocation had nothing to do with Lance Armstrong and drug use, a legit concern I do not know enough about. I was referring specifically to the medical treatment's that saved him from cancer. It is my contention that these treatments, while brutal at the time, changed his body so that he was better able to compete in the Tour de France, and that allowing him to compete post surgery is not controversial. If the surgeries had been performed with the goal of enhancing his athletic ability I think it would be different (and really creepy), although I lean towrad the libertarian line with regards to allowing people to do what they want with their bodies. Taking an extremely non-libertarian position, I would not be adverse to a goernment controlled ceiling on compensation of athletes, if I thought it could be executed practically -- something along the lines of limiting the amount of omoney an athlete could be paid a year, encouraging compensation to be pushed into pensions or compensation that went beyond the performance of the sport. Practically, I think it falls apart because enforcement/classification would be impractical. (there could be some interesting scenarios whereas the government removed the ability for professional sports to licence their content, which might work, but would probaly result in ridiculous attempts to protect license through private means (protected content, distribution and onerous private contracts). What were we talking about again?

Posted by: theCoach | Dec 6, 2004 12:07:11 PM

Well, whichever prosecutor leaked the documents should definitely not be allowed into the prosecutor hall of fame, and there should always be an asterisk next to his/her name whenever someone reports on their conviction records.

Posted by: SoCalJustice | Dec 6, 2004 12:07:27 PM

Why do any of us care if professional athletes use various medications in order to perform better? I don't. After all, athletes use weight lifting to build body mass, use dietary supplements for the same reason, use expert medical care to recover or perform while injured, etc. Society would be far better served to just view athletes as performers and allow them to do as they wish to themselves to become better paid performers.

We can't object to the permanent damage such athletes do to their bodies by using drugs. After all, a large percentage of professional football players do permanent damage to their bodies just by playing. And, very many use pain killing injections so they can continue to play while injured. Also, consider the massive knee and elbow surgeries being done to athletes, where the entire joint is surgically rebuilt, just so they can perform at top level after injuries. We are all hypocrites to try to limit their use of steroid-type drugs for any reason I can see.

The argument that if we don't do so, our teenage kids will follow their lead doesn't hold water either. We do allow usage of booze and tobacco, which do permanent harm to our bodies, and even celebrate that usage in advertisements to hook teen agers into using them.

Posted by: Vaughn Hopkins | Dec 6, 2004 12:13:14 PM

Rob - Kleiman is simply not correct when he writes "when grand jury transcripts leak, the ultimate source of the leak was either the prosecutor or someone the prosecutor give it to". There are a number of additional possible sources, including (for example) the transcription service.

Posted by: Al | Dec 6, 2004 12:15:23 PM

Vaughn Kopkins, I believe the argument is more that these drugs are considered dangerous, and by allowing their use, it would in effect compel other athletes to take the drugs in order to compete effectively.

Posted by: Kiril | Dec 6, 2004 12:47:34 PM

I think that the best way to look at the steriods prohibition is as enforced disarmament. (Not that this disarmament works very well, obviously). There are many risks associated with steriod use that many athletes do not want to take (risks that do not accompany the other medical interventions mentioned above). Yet in order to compete on a level playing field, these athletes will need to join the arms race, taking risks that they otherwise would not want to take. Thus, a ban on steroid use forces everyone to disarm.

Posted by: blah | Dec 6, 2004 12:51:34 PM

Professional sport is a stupid idea. It should be banned. Seriously, what's the point?

Posted by: abb1 | Dec 6, 2004 1:11:07 PM

OT: Matt, just read your post responding to Atrios's dodge on "crypto-pacifism." What I think you may be missing, and what Noam Scheiber gets in his response to Beinart, is that these pacifists are few and far between, at least when you're not in Cambridge or here in Seattle. They have no power and they were certainly willing to compromise their principles to get a Democrat elected.

In addition, you dodged Atrios' larger point, which is that Beinart and other "liberal" hawks have contributed to a tendency to shut out anyone who is not simplistically pro-war, which is detrimental to the discourse, to democracy, to -- dare I say it -- innocent brown people and our own soldiers.

Posted by: pdp | Dec 6, 2004 1:14:21 PM

Al--And they have no idea who the transcriber is? Keep digging yourself in deeper...

Posted by: Rob | Dec 6, 2004 1:18:20 PM

Rob - I'm not saying that they don't know who the transcription service is. They can probably make a pretty good chain of control over the transcript. All I'm saying is that it is not necessarily the prosecutor or someone on the prosecutor's side. (Another example: it could be court personnel - someone in the judge's chambers.)

Posted by: Al | Dec 6, 2004 1:21:45 PM

Anyone who thinks susan mcdougal is "down to earth" has probably been taking too many man made steroids.
Abb1:Bigger question regarding professional sport being banned. Why not ban all sports? where do you draw the line? You would probably not draw it where I wanted to see it. Better answer. Let the market sort it out.

Posted by: Dan from Cos | Dec 6, 2004 1:34:26 PM

Dan from Cos,
There are several laws on the books that remove sports from the all-seeing market, or at least modify it considerably. Baseball has some monopoly protections. Licensing for TV rights is enforced by the guvmint, product licensing is enforced, tax payers subsidize stadiums, concessions are tightly controlled, etc.
As far as a line being drawn, the obvious one would be for professional sports -- i.e. no payment for sports entertainment, although I think the comment was in jest.

Posted by: theCoach | Dec 6, 2004 1:48:15 PM

Well, Dan, if it was up to me, I'd ban it the same way prostitution is. I'd let them do their stupid thing in Nevada somewhere, but that's it.

But if you don't want to ban it, then why ban the steroids, who the hell cares? For them it's like the make-up, cosmetics stuff for the working girls. What's the point?

Posted by: abb1 | Dec 6, 2004 1:50:51 PM

Since Big Media Matt won't allow comments over at Tapped, I've got to come here.

Hey, Matt!

You know why the GOP keeps winning? (Besides their having the press under their thumbs, that is.)

It's because they NEVER play 'prevent defense'. They Always, ALWAYS, Attack. Period.

Quit it with the abused-spouse routine. You know -- "If I just avoid doing the responsible thing, maybe the GOP and their media allies will stop hitting me"?

Instead of doing the right-wing's dirty work for them, why aren't you fighting them instead?

Why, instead of obediently jumping all over the straw man the right-wingers have so conveniently constructed for you, aren't you talking about stuff like this:

the only reason Bush went into Afghanistan before he invaded Iraq was because Colin Powell and the rest of the State Department begged him to at least make the pretense of going after Osama were he actually was.)

Instead of ripping apart straw men and whining that We Must Do What The GOP Says And Keep Moving Rightwards, why aren't you counterattacking?

Why aren't you pointing out how the GOP, the Party of "Security", has made us LESS secure by a) being asleep at the switch in the months before 9/11, b) using 9/11 as an excuse to go after the wrong country (see the above link for details, or just Google "rumsfeld go massive"), and c) failing both to "get Osama" or to replace Saddam with a regime that's an improvement on his? (Saddam was evil, but women could go to university -- Iraqi women were the best-educated in the Middle East -- and be guaranteed jobs under his reign. Now women don't dare venture outside, and future Iraqi women will be lucky if they're allowed to learn how to read.)

Posted by: Phoenix Woman | Dec 6, 2004 2:16:21 PM

Of course steroids are harmful, but so is playing football. Professional athletes perform to make money, and to make that money they have to be among the best in their field, so they use drugs, excessive workouts, surgeries, or whatever else they need. That wont change no matter how many drugs we make illegal. As it is today the pros who are willing to risk being caught gain the edge with their drugs, while those afraid of being caught are less competitive. Removing the illegality actually levels the "playing field". And, the benefit to the paying customer will be the thrill of seeing a 100 home run per year hitter, an 8 second 100 meter dash, a 100 point per game basketball player, a 400 pound football scat back, etc.

Posted by: Vaughn Hopkins | Dec 6, 2004 2:34:27 PM

The Coach- I'll concede there is not a total free market in professional sports but there is a considerable free market. The point is who cares if atletes use performance enhancing drugs if the fans want that.
Abb1: I can just imagine black market hockey (Might be a good year for it) just like prostitution in every city in the world-not just nevada. We need to address the fact that in most cases the fans vote for taxpayers to support stadiums-not me, but there are votes for this to happen. Obviuosly there are sports fans in every chicken coop across the fruited plain(did someone say cock fights)and this is why the Super Bowl has one of the biggest audiences of any sporting event in the world. Professional sports has been with us far longer than our Constitution. Those gladiators and Mayan ball clubs could have used some performance enhancing drugs since to lose was to die.

Posted by: Dan from Cos | Dec 6, 2004 2:41:18 PM

Right - gladiators, exactly. That's what I've been looking for. Bread and circus.

No, but seriously, professional sport is a kinda distasteful activity.

Posted by: abb1 | Dec 6, 2004 2:53:41 PM

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