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US baseball 'rife' with drug use
Dozens of players have been linked to taking performance-enhancing substances in a report on Major League Baseball that alleges a serious drug culture
 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA , 14-December-2007  9:19:55 AM
Former Senator George Mitchell, who led the investigation, said several All-Stars were suspected of using steroids and human growth hormones.

He also called for MLB to outsource drug-testing and form an investigative arm to pursue allegations of drug use.

In response, MLB head Bud Selig said he embraced all the recommendations made.

Speaking at a news conference, he said that baseball fans "deserve a game that is played on a level playing field, where all who compete do so fairly".

The players implicated in this scandal read like a who's who of the modern-day game, the BBC's Matthew Price reports from New York.

Baseball is one of America's most popular sports, and he says allegations of widespread drug-use will be deeply disappointing to fans.

Among those named in the report is Barry Bonds, who pleaded not guilty last week to charges of lying to a jury about steroid use.

Prosecutors allege that the San Francisco Giants outfielder, who became the sport's record home-run hitter in September, lied under oath when he said in 2003 that he had never knowingly used performance-enhancing substances.

Mr Bonds has denied accusations that he had used a previously untraceable steroid from a San Francisco-based company called Balco.

The inquiry was instigated by Mr Selig, the MLB Commissioner, in March 2006, following the publication of a book that alleged the use of performance-enhancing substances by Mr Bonds.

'Slow response'

Mr Mitchell's report concluded that there was evidence that all 30 Major League clubs were affected by use of banned substances.

"For more than a decade there has been widespread illegal use of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing substances by players in Major League Baseball in violation of federal law and baseball policy," Mr Mitchell said at a news conference.

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