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With congressional request, FBI starts inquiry into Tejada

WASHINGTON -- Miguel Tejada is under FBI scrutiny, officials
said Thursday after opening a preliminary investigation into
whether the former AL MVP lied when he told federal authorities he
never took steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs.
The inquiry, in response to a congressional request, amounts to
an initial look at facts surrounding the case. It does not mean
charges will be brought against the Houston Astros shortstop, who
in 2002 won his MVP award while with Oakland.
"The Justice Department has referred the Miguel Tejada matter
to the FBI, and a preliminary inquiry will be conducted," FBI
spokesman Richard Kolko said Thursday.
Investigators with the FBI's field office in Washington will
handle the inquiry. It is unclear how long initial fact-finding
will take.
"I don't have any comment," said Tejada's lawyer, Mark Tuohey,
who said he was unaware of the FBI's involvement until contacted by
The Associated Press.
At issue are comments Tejada gave to House committee
investigators in August 2005 when he was 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 Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, released
last month, that looked at drug use in baseball.
The Houston Astros had no comment on news that the FBI is now
investigating Tejada. Drayton McLane, the Astros owner, was
attending the baseball owners' meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz., and
was not immediately available for comment.
Tejada was in the Dominican Republic for the funeral of his
brother, who died Tuesday in a motorcycle accident there.
"It's important we determine whether Mr. Tejada misled an
investigative committee of the House of Representatives," said
Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia, the top Republican on the House
Oversight committee. "It's also important that those who come
before the committee understand we are serious when we tell them
they must tell the truth or face serious penalties."
Tejada's interview with congressional aides, held Aug. 26, 2005,
at a Baltimore hotel, was in connection with an inquiry over
whether his then-teammate, Rafael Palmeiro, had used steroids.
Palmeiro had denied during House testimony in March that year that
he had used steroids, then tested positive later in 2005 and was
suspended for 10 days. He said his positive test could 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, parts of which were included in a letter to the Justice
Department.
"Has there been discussion among other players about
steroids?" a committee staffer asked, according to the letter.
"No, I never heard," Tejada replied.
"You never knew of any other player using steroids?" Tejada
was asked.
"No," he replied.
"Have you ever taken a steroid before?" he was asked at
another point.
"No," he said.
Tejada also answered "no" when asked if he had ever taken any
illegal performance-enhancing drugs or any other steroid precursor.
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.
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 Athletics, was
traded to Houston from Baltimore on Dec. 12 -- one day before the
Mitchell report was released.

Commissioner Bud Selig, given a three-year extension through 2012 at Thursday's
owners' meeting, took a softer tone on management than he did
during his congressional testimony Tuesday, when he said club
officials could face "very serious discipline" for not passing
along information about possible drug use.
"All this business about owners have turned their head and so
on and so forth, there just is no fact to that, there's no truth to
that," he said. "Now, were we slow to react? OK, people can make
that observation, whether we all agree or not is not important."
Selig also hinted that rather than turn over drug testing to an
outside body, as recommended by the World Anti-Doping Agency,
baseball would seek to make changes to its current system, in which
management and the union jointly pick an independent administrator.
As of now, either side can fire the administrator at any time.
The sides could agree to a fixed term and that the administrator
could be dismissed only for cause.
"I want us to tighten this program in every way, shape and
form," Selig said. "I want to strengthen it in every way -- more
testing. I think we've come to that, and we should do that."