The following excerpts are from Charles Gibson's interview with former Sen. George Mitchell today. For more on the Mitchell Report, watch ABC News World News with Charles Gibson at 6:30 p.m. ET.
Gibson: Senator, among your recommendations was not to punish any players for past activity. Why?
Mitchell: Except for those where the actions are so serious that the Commissioner must impose discipline to protect the integrity of the game, I think that he should forego disciplining players.
First, I think we have got to look forward, and not to the past. Most of the violations are some years ago -- from two to nine years old. This was at a time when baseball was changing its rules regularly. And thirdly, the fact is, you have to take the date of the conduct when you apply punishment.
And, on the date of much of this conduct, there was no penalty for a first positive drug test.
Charlie, I think this problem is widespread. They have taken steps to try to deal with it. It can't be dealt with by spending time in the past. Everybody has to look to the future and pull together. And I think the Commissioner should give the players involved -- and everyone involved -- the chance to look forward.
Gibson: But some of the activity occurred after baseball passed rules against steroid use in particular. And it really amounts to -- what you are suggesting -- to amnesty.
Mitchell: Oh, Charlie, you know, that's a loaded word now, [LAUGHS] in another context. And I think it's a mistake to use it, because it doesn't apply, where the Commissioner has authority to impose discipline -- at his discretion. It's his judgment to make whether he thinks action is so serious that it requires some form of discipline.
Mitchell: But I think what baseball…
Gibson: Go ahead.
Mitchell: Excuse me. Go ahead.
Gibson: I was just gonna say. Marion Jones -- stripped of her medals. Floyd Landis -- stripped of his yellow jersey and the French bicycle race title.
Gibson: But you are saying…Nothing with the baseball players?
Mitchell: Well, let's be clear. You are picking out 3 people. You are not mentioning the dozens of hundreds of others in other sports who have been in the same situation and haven't been punished. So I don't think it's a fair comparison.
Secondly, what I think happened is a serious problem for baseball. The question is, how do you best get out of it? All right. In any situation where a law or a rule is broken, competing values come into play, and you have to make judgments that include responsibility, accountability, punishment, but also -- how do you deal with the problem in the future?
And one thing I learned in Northern Ireland -- letting go of the past is hard, but it's often a necessary step if you are gonna deal with the problem in the future. I don't think baseball now needs to spend the next several years rummaging around in the past trying to find every single person who ever used performance-enhancing substances and try to punish them. I think what they need to do is to look to the future. How can you best prevent this from occurring in the future?
Gibson: And you talked about kids. And we have reported in this broadcast that federal investigators have come up with literally thousands of names of young people who are buying these things -- these performance enhancing drugs -- either through e-mails or credit card receipts. To what extent is baseball, and the example it sets, responsible for that?