Lo Duca offers apology of sorts
VIERA, Fla. -- Paul Lo Duca, cited in the Mitchell Report as a user of steroids and human growth hormone and the person who referred former Dodgers teammates Eric Gagne and Kevin Brown to his drug supplier, issued a statement Saturday in which he apologized for “mistakes in judgment.”
Lo Duca met briefly with reporters Saturday but did not discuss particular performance-enhancing substances and would not directly say what he was apologizing for.
“C’mon, bro,” Lo Duca said. “Next question.”
Lo Duca issued the statement on the day he reported to camp with the Washington Nationals, who signed the four-time All-Star to a one-year, $5-million contract two days before Mitchell released his report. He had not commented publicly since the Mitchell Report was released in December, saying he chose to focus his off-season on his knee surgery and rehabilitation.
“When the baseball season started back up, I wanted to take care of this issue,” Lo Duca said. “It hasn’t been something that’s burning inside me, obviously.”
He said he did not know he would be named in the report and did not push to sign a new contract before its release. Still, Lo Duca called it “a big relief” to have his misdeeds exposed.
“You do something wrong in your life and you get away with it,” he said, “you still have something inside of you that burns.”
The report cites former New York Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski as saying he sold at least six kits of human growth hormone to Lo Duca. Federal law forbids the use of HGH and steroids without a legitimate medical prescription.
“In regards to the Mitchell Report,” his statement read, “I apologize to my family, all my fans and the entire baseball community for mistakes in judgment I made.”
Lo Duca declined to say whether the specific statements about him in the report were accurate. He acknowledged that he passed up the opportunity to meet with Mitchell before the report was released.
“I respect what he’s done,” Lo Duca said. “I respect that they’re cleaning up the game. I’m 100% in favor of the report. It’s not a lie. I’m not saying that to say that. I am. But I just never spoke to him.”
Commissioner Bud Selig did not meet his timetable of determining by the start of spring training whether active players cited in the Mitchell Report would be suspended. Lo Duca said he has not been contacted by the commissioner’s office.
Baseball did not suspend steroid users until 2004 and did not ban HGH until 2005. The report offers no evidence Lo Duca used either substance when he would have been subject to suspension under baseball rules.
In his statement, Lo Duca said he would “respectfully decline to comment any further on the content of the Mitchell Report.” In his meeting with reporters, he said, “I’ve said what I needed to say. I don’t need to comment on it any more.”
The report included copies of three checks for $3,200 each, payable from Lo Duca to Radomski, as well as a copy of this handwritten note on Dodger Stadium letterhead: “Thanks, Call me if you need anything! Paul.”
Radomski said the note was included with one of Lo Duca’s payments.
Two of the three checks are dated during the 2004 season; the date on the third is not clear.
Lo Duca also referred Brown to Radomski in 2000 or 2001, and Brown subsequently purchased HGH from him, according to the Mitchell Report.
Lo Duca also introduced Gagne to Radomski and paid him for one shipment of HGH to Gagne, the report said. Radomski said he twice shipped HGH to Gagne during the 2004 season, providing a receipt for one shipment directly to the home clubhouse at Dodger Stadium.
Lo Duca and Gagne were the Dodgers’ representatives in the 2004 All-Star game. Brown had been traded to the New York Yankees the previous winter.
The report also said Lo Duca referred former Dodgers reliever Matt Herges to Radomski. Herges subsequently bought HGH from Radomski.
Herges, now with the Colorado Rockies, issued a statement last week in which he specifically apologized for his use of “performance-enhancing substances.”
The report further includes testimony from Todd Seyler, a former Dodgers minor league trainer, who said he discussed performance-enhancing substances with a group of minor leaguers in 1999 and said he understood that either Herges or Lo Duca would buy steroids for a group of minor league players “from a source in Florida.”
In July 1999, Seyler said he witnessed Lo Duca inject himself with steroids.
Shaikin reported from Los Angeles; Hernandez reported from Viera, Fla.