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Steroid Boys of Summer Face Subpoenas

WWW- Congressional leaders are ready to play hardball with Major League Baseball players who don’t want to talk about steroids.

Congressional sources told the Daily News yesterday that players who said last week they were not interested in testifying before the House Government Reform Committee in a March 17 hearing on steroid use will be issued subpoenas as soon as today.

Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and Jason Giambi are among the seven current and former stars that will be called to testify about steroids and their role in baseball. Curt Schilling, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and Frank Thomas also were invited last week to testify. Canseco and Thomas have said they will appear and will not be subpoenaed. The other five can all expect to get one.

“We hope subpoenas won’t be necessary, but we are prepared to move forward with subpoenas tomorrow if we receive information that witnesses are not willing to appear voluntarily,” David Marin, a spokesman for House Government Reform Committee chairman Rep. Tom Davis, said yesterday.

MLB commissioner Bud Selig and Players Association chief Don Fehr were also invited to the hearing, but are not expected to receive subpoenas. Officials said they were not sure whether Selig and Fehr will attend, but both Selig’s office and the union said they will send a delegate to appear in Washington.

MLB executive vice president Sandy Alderson and San Diego general manager Kevin Towers also were asked to testify.

In his book “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big,” released last month, Canseco admits using steroids and says he personally injected McGwire. Canseco also said he introduced steroids to former Texas Rangers teammates, including Palmeiro, who has denied using the performance-enhancing drugs, and Ivan Rodriguez. McGwire, Rodriguez, Bret Boone and others have also denied use.

Giambi testified before a federal grand jury investigating steroids in 2003 and according to a report by the San Francisco Chronicle in December, told the panel he had used steroids. Giambi has not denied the report but has refused to publicly discuss steroids, citing advice from his lawyers. Giambi was granted limited immunity by prosecutors for his grand jury testimony. Because of the ongoing investigation, it is possible the Justice Department, the committee and Giambi might have to negotiate an immunity agreement before he would answer questions from the congressional panel.

If he is granted immunity and testifies publicly, the Yankees potentially could use any admissions as grounds to attempt to void his contract, which has four years and $82 million remaining.

The parents of two amateur players who committed suicide were also added as witnesses yesterday. Taylor Hooton, a cousin of former major leaguer Burt Hooton, was 17 when he hanged himself on July 15, 2003, and his parents think the suicide was due to depression that followed Taylor’s end of steroid use. Rob Garibaldi, who played for the University of Southern California, was 24 when he shot himself on Oct. 1, 2002, and his parents also think his death was related to steroids.

“I believe it is important for the committee to hear from medical experts and impacted families on the scope of the steroid problem nationwide,” Davis said.

Three medical experts also were added: Dr. Gary Wadler of the World Anti-Doping Agency, Dr. Nora Volkow of the National Institutes of Health and Dr. Kirk Brower of the University of Michigan Medical School.

“These witnesses have voluntarily agreed to share their expertise and experiences with the Committee, and I hope the players and league officials will follow suit,” said Rep. Henry Waxman, the ranking Democrat on the committee.



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