March 29, 2006— -- Major League baseball will open an investigation into past steroid use by several major league players, most prominently Barry Bonds, ESPN has learned.
George Mitchell, former Democratic senator from Maine who served as majority leader, will head the investigation effort, though he will not be the lead investigator.
The New York Times recently reported that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig was on the verge of announcing an investigation into steroid use by Bonds and other players as detailed in the new book, "Game of Shadows," by San Francisco Chronicle reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams.
ESPN has learned that Bonds and any other current player who may be part of this investigation will be allowed to play while the investigation is ongoing.
Selig has been under pressure for weeks to create an investigation team. Another book to be released this spring, "Love Me, Hate Me: Barry Bonds and the Making of an Antihero" by Jeff Pearlman, also accuses Bonds of using steroids, human growth hormone and insulin for at least five seasons beginning in 1998.
Major League Baseball did not ban performance-enhancing substances until after the 2002 season, and Bonds has denied ever knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs.
Selig also faces pressure from Congress. Two weeks ago, Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., who previously sponsored legislation calling for tougher drug testing in pro sports, sent Selig a letter asking about his role in policing steroid use from 1998 to 2002.
Mitchell is the chairman of the board of the Walt Disney Company, the parent company of ESPN.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.