FBI Eyes MVP Tejada's Steroid Testimony

Baltimore Orioles' Miguel Tejada (10) is congratulated by Rafael Palmeiro, left, after hitting a solo home run in the ninth inning in Detroit, in this May 29, 2004 file photo. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson) AP

The FBI has opened a preliminary investigation into whether Major League Baseball star Miguel Tejada lied to federal authorities when he denied taking performance-enhancing drugs, The Associated Press has learned.

The inquiry, in response to a U.S. congressional request, amounts to an initial look at facts surrounding the case. It does not mean charges will be brought against the Dominican shortstop, who in 2002 was the American League's Most Valuable Player.

Investigators with the FBI's field office in Washington will handle the inquiry, according to a FBI official who spoke on Thursday on condition of anonymity because the case is ongoing. It is unclear how long the initial fact-finding will take.

At issue are comments Tejada gave to congressional investigators in August 2005 when he was playing with the Baltimore Orioles. He denied during the interview that he used illegal performance-enhancing drugs or knew of other players using or talking about steroids.

Tejada was among a number of star athletes named in a lengthy report by former senator George Mitchell, released last month, that looked at drug use in MLB.

Tejada's interview with congressional aides was in connection with an inquiry over whether his then-teammate, Rafael Palmeiro, had used steroids. Palmeiro had denied during congressional testimony earlier in 2005 that he had used steroids, but he ultimately tested positive.

Palmeiro was suspended by MLB later in 2005. He has said his positive test must have resulted from a B-12 vitamin injection given to him by Tejada.

The House Oversight and Government Committee this week asked Attorney General Michael Mukasey to investigate Tejada's statements.

The Mitchell Report includes statements by Adam Piatt, Tejada's former teammate with the Oakland Athletics, who said he gave Tejada steroids and HGH in 2003. Mitchell also included copies of checks allegedly written by Tejada to Piatt in March 2003 for $3,100 and $3,200 (euro2,000 and euro2,100).

Making false statements to Congress is a felony.

The House committee also has looked into whether Palmeiro should face perjury charges, but eventually dropped the matter.

Tejada, who won his MVP award with the Oakland Athletics, was traded to the Houston Astros from Baltimore on Dec. 12 - one day before the Mitchell Report was released.
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