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League reportedly starts likely 48-hour review before Mitchell report release

NEW YORK -- Major League Baseball has begun to review a
draft of George Mitchell's report on drug use in the sport, one of
the final steps before the results of his 20-month investigation
are released.

Baseball reviewed a draft Tuesday at the Manhattan office of DLA
Piper, the law firm that Mitchell chairs, a baseball official said,
speaking on condition of anonymity because Mitchell hasn't
authorized any statements.

The report likely will be released Thursday, and commissioner
Bud Selig does not plan to attend Mitchell's news conference, the
official said. Selig could have his own news conference or hold a
conference call, he added.

Baseball officials have said for several weeks that management
would be able to examine the report on performance-enhancing drugs
a few days before it is made public to make sure it does not
contain any confidential information that if released would violate
the collective bargaining agreement between players and owners.

In a statement to ESPN, MLB said: "Nothing is more important to Commissioner Selig than the integrity of the game. He looks forward to commenting on the report when it is released."

The start of baseball's review first was reported by the New York Daily
News on its Web site.

According to Daily News sources, the report is believed to contain 60-80 names of current and former players and is based in large part on information Mitchell received from former Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski.

The joint drug agreement, which has been part of the labor
contract since September 2002, prohibits the commissioner's office,
teams and consultants from disclosing player test results,
treatment and other information except in very limited, specified
circumstances.

Mitchell, a former Senate Majority Leader, is a director of the
Boston Red Sox and served on one of Selig's economic study
committees. Selig hired him in March 2006 to investigate drug use
in the sport.

He's expected by many in baseball to be critical of the sport
for being slow to react to its drug problem in 1990s and beyond.
What they will be looking to see in his report is how he parcels
blame among Selig, club owners, general managers,
other team employees, the players' association and players
themselves.

The revelation of players who have not yet been publicly linked
to drug use figures to be the most sensational part of the report.
Media reports have linked an array of All-Stars and MVPs to
performance-enhancers in recent years, among them Barry Bonds, Jose
Canseco, Ken Caminiti, Juan Gonzalez and Mark McGwire.

Bonds, indicted last month for perjury and obstruction of
justice over his 2003 testimony in the BALCO drug case, has denied
knowingly using performance-enhancers, as have Gonzalez and
McGwire.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.