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MLB officials to consult Albany DA about Matthews

Baseball has some questions for Gary Matthews Jr., too.

Major League Baseball officials said Thursday they want more information on
allegations that the Los Angeles Angels outfielder was sent human growth hormone from a pharmacy that's part of a widespread steroid investigation.

"We're looking into it," baseball spokesman Rich Levin said
Thursday. "I know our people are going to contact the Albany
district attorney."

Four more people are expected to surrender in Albany, N.Y., on
Monday as part of the investigation into an illicit steroid
distribution network that may be responsible for Internet sales of
performance-enhancing drugs nationwide. Though Matthews, former
baseball star Jose Canseco and former heavyweight champion Evander
Holyfield were reportedly among the customers, district attorney P.
David Soares has repeatedly said physicians and distributors, not
users, are his focus.

Eight people in three states already have been arrested, and as
many as 24 could face felony charges by the time the investigation
is over. Indictments remain sealed until defendants appear in
Albany County Court.

"My interest is in shutting down the faucet," Soares said,
"and not just putting cups under the faucet catching drips."

In Orlando, Fla., where raids took place earlier this week, four
defendants waived extradition. However, their attorneys requested
they be released on bond, fitted with global tracking monitors and
allowed to turn themselves in to New York authorities.

Orange County Judge Mike Murphy denied the bond request but said
if New York authorities did not pick up the defendants by March 8,
he would reconsider bond.

Federal and state agents raided two pharmacies in Orlando on
Tuesday in connection with the investigation. An Albany County
grand jury also has indicted the two owners of Applied Pharmacy
Services in Mobile, Ala., according to the Times Union of Albany,
which first disclosed the investigation.

Matthews, Canseco and Holyfield allegedly were on Applied
Pharmacy's customer list, the Times Union said. And SI.com reported
that Matthews was sent Genotropin, a brand of synthetic growth
hormone, in August 2004.


The magazine's Web site also reported that Texas Rangers non-roster invitee Jerry Hairston Jr. received HGH in the mail from Allied Pharmacy last fall. SI.com couldn't vertify that Hairston Jr. ever used HGH but when asked by the website, Hairston Jr. denied knowing anything about HGH being sent to him and denied ever using any steroids.


The drug allegedly sent to Matthews, which came from Applied Pharmacy, was sent to the address in Mansfield, Texas, of one of Matthews' former minor league teammates, according to the Internet site.

Matthews has declined to answer specific questions about the
allegations.

"When I get more information from my people, I can say more,"
he said at the Angels' spring training camp in Tempe, Ariz.

Matthews' father, Gary, spoke to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark about the investigation.


"All I'm saying is, just let the story unfold like you'd do with any other person," the elder Matthews said. "And then, at the time when it's appropriate, he'll make a statement."


The veteran of 16 major league seasons added, "I haven't seen him. And I might make a trip out there just to see that. I learned long ago, just being the hitting coach, that you have to be the dad first. So we'll see what happens. Like I said, there have been a lot of other athletes who have been named in different things, and [people] let it unfold. And then, when it does, then that would be the time to comment, one way or the other."


Human growth hormone wasn't included in Major League Baseball's
list of banned substances until after the 2004 season. But the
collective bargaining agreement in effect at the time said players
could be penalized for criminal convictions for the use, sale or
distribution of prohibited substances.

HGH is a rarely prescribed drug whose legal uses have to be
specifically approved by the Health and Human Services secretary.
But it's become popular on the black market with people looking to
gain strength or reverse the aging process.

"There are some unfortunate allegations that are floating
around, but we don't know exactly what we're dealing with," Angels
manager Mike Scioscia said. "Until we do, we really can't comment
on it. We have to try to move forward and have it be as little of a
distraction as it can be."

The Albany case -- along with a similar investigation by federal
prosecutors in Rhode Island -- are a shift in the fight against
doping. Testing may expose athletes who cheat, but it does little
to deter those who make, market and distribute
performance-enhancing substances.

Stopping the flow of drugs requires punishing the sources --
something sports agencies can't do.

"The fact that the investigations are going on and they're
proving fruitful and there seems to be intrastate cooperation is
particularly encouraging," said Dick Pound, chairman of the World
Anti-Doping Agency.

"The future of the fight of doping in sports is going to
involve more and more government agencies," Pound said. "They're
the ones who have the power to investigate and the resources to
investigate. They have ability to seize evidence ... that sports
authorities don't have."

Former Sen. George Mitchell, for example, said Thursday his
investigation into steroid use in baseball has been slowed because
he doesn't have the power to subpoena witnesses or documents.
Baseball hired Mitchell before the 2006 season.

"I believe that despite my lack of subpoena power ... that
we'll have a comprehensive report," Mitchell said. "What the lack
of subpoena power means is it will take longer, not that it will
significantly alter the result."

Several investigators are interviewing baseball personnel at
spring training camps. Documents are being reviewed and
investigators are negotiating to get other documents, Mitchell
said.

In Lakeland, Fla., the Detroit Tigers' Gary Sheffield met with a
baseball executive Thursday to discuss recent comments on whether
he would cooperate with Mitchell.

Sheffield and Rob Manfred, baseball's executive vice president
for labor relations, declined to comment on the meeting, which also
included Bob Lenaghan of the players' union.

The investigation also shows the extensive problem of
performance-enhancing drugs, said Dr. Todd Schlifstein of New York
University Medical Center's Rusk Institute.

"There's a lot of people besides professional athletes using
these," he said. "Common sense should prevail. If something's too
good to be true, it probably is."