President Bush — an avid baseball fan who sometimes watches games in the Oval Office — addressed the report today, saying he is “troubled” by the steroid allegations. Bush “hopes that this report marks the beginning of the end of steroid abuse,” said Press Secretary Dana Perino. Bush added:
I think it’s best that all of us not jump to any conclusions on individual players named, but we can jump to this conclusion: that steroids have sullied the game. … And my hope is that this report is a part of putting the steroid era of baseball behind us.
“[P]ayers and the owners must take the Mitchell report seriously,” Bush ordered today. But from 1988 to 1994, when Bush was managing general partner of the Texas Rangers, he turned a blind eye to steroid abuse.
Several former Rangers — Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmiero, and Jose Canseco — were all alleged to have used, or have admitted to using, steroids while playing for Bush. Gonzales, Palmiero, and Canseco were identified in Mitchell’s report.
Jose Canseco authored a book about steroids in baseball during the early 1990s and argued that Bush must have known about the drug use. In July, sports columnist Skip Bayless — previously a sports journalist in Dallas — said Bush “looked the other way” when working for the Rangers:
I knew the President when he was owner of the Rangers. And I heard all the whispers around the locker room and the clubhouse. … I think he looked the other way.
Ironically, Bush wants to put “behind us” a steroid culture that his negligent management helped foster.
QUESTION: Mr. President, on the Mitchell report, sir, do you think that the baseball players actually mentioned in the report should be punished?
BUSH: A couple of reactions to the Mitchell reports.
As you know, I’m a baseball fan. I love the sport. I love the game. Like many fans, I’ve been troubled by the steroid allegations.
I think it’s best that all of us not jump to any conclusions on individual players named, but we can jump to this conclusion: that steroids have sullied the game. And players and the owners must take the Mitchell report seriously. I’m confident they will.
And my hope is that this report is a part of putting the steroid era of baseball behind us.
You know, I — in the State of the Union a couple of years ago, I addressed the issue of steroids. And the reason I did so is because I understand the impact that professional athletes can have on our nation’s youth.
And I just urge our — those in the public spotlight, particularly athletes, to understand that when they violate their bodies, they’re sending a terrible signal to America’s young.