Cust questions Mitchell report

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Jack Cust still wonders why his name appeared in the Mitchell report. Now, the Oakland slugger has a more pressing question: How come some prominent Red Sox were missing?

"To me it was kind of a joke, the whole thing," Cust told The Associated Press last weekend.

Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell released his report in December 2007 and of the 85 players mentioned, none of them were Boston stars. Mitchell has been a director of the Red Sox since 2002.

Last month, The New York Times reported former Boston teammates Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz were among 104 players who allegedly tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003, according to a list compiled by the federal government.

"With all the other stuff going on, with a lot of the guys coming out recently -- big-name guys -- to me it's kind of funny they spent all that money on the Mitchell report and a bunch of hearsay and the guy who made all the money off it happened to work for the Red Sox," Cust told the AP.

"Were there any Red Sox on the report? To me, that's kind of a joke. How does that happen? It's coming out now with guys on that team. The guy worked for the Red Sox -- they spent all kinds of millions of dollars -- and then no one there had their name brought up," he said.

The 409-page report was compiled after 20 months of investigation and interviews by Mitchell and his staff. Mitchell was hired by commissioner Bud Selig.

Cust said he has never had a positive test that would put him on a drug list. The Mitchell report said Cust and Larry Bigbie played for Baltimore's Triple-A Ottawa team in 2003 and discussed steroids.

According to the report, "Cust eventually asked Bigbie if he had ever tried steroids. Bigbie acknowledged he had, and Cust said that he, too, had tried steroids. Cust told Bigbie that he had a source who could procure anything he wanted."

Charles Scheeler, an attorney who worked with Mitchell, defended the report in a statement Tuesday.

"We stand by the statements regarding Mr. Cust in the report, and we remain highly confident in their accuracy," Scheeler said.

"Mr. Cust was invited to meet with us to respond to the evidence that we had received, and he declined to do so. In conducting the investigation and preparing the report, we followed the evidence wherever it led without any predisposition for or against any player or team," he said.

Cust said he's been tested "a couple of times" already this year after being tested at least five or six times in 2008. Baseball began testing with penalties in 2004, and began revealing all first-time offenders for steroids the following year.

Cust said he has long used a variety of over-the-counter supplements and vitamins, and still takes one of the supplements he's used most of his career. There is a health club as part of his Jack Cust Baseball Academy in Flemington, N.J., and that's where he gets some of what he takes.

"Now you hear these new allegations of other guys," Cust said. "It's just something I think as a sport we need to move forward. I don't know why it's such a big deal in baseball. I guess because of the history and the statistics and all that stuff. You don't know what guys are doing at any point in any career.

"You don't know what anyone was taking in the '60s, the '70s. Guys in the late '90s, early 2000s. Steroids from my knowledge have been around and bodybuilders were doing them in the '60s," he said.

As for baseball's drug policy, "it can't be much tougher," he said.

"It's something if you're going to do it now, you've got to be pretty brave. I think the sport's cleaned up and done a great job with it. Just continue and hopefully the fans can get past all that. There was a time guys were doing it and now it's a cleaned-up game and I think you can see the difference in the results and in the players. Guys aren't hitting 60 homers in consecutive years or 70 homers."

Cust said there are times when he must block out the criticism or harsh words from the fans and critics.

"There's nothing you can do as an individual to dispute it. Once your name's out there, it's out there," he said.

"You still hear it every time you go into a stadium. They want to get on you for something and talk about that," he said. "To me it's never been something that was ever anything that was true. No test results, no nothing. For your name to be brought up because of something said by someone you played with in the minor leagues, to me was a little weird. It's something I've had to deal with and other guys have had to deal with."