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Mitchell denies dropping bomb

CLEVELAND – Baseball investigator George Mitchell, also a director for the AL champion Boston Red Sox, denied yesterday providing information for a story that Cleveland Indians pitcher Paul Byrd used human growth hormone.

Before Game 7 on Sunday, Byrd acknowledged using HGH after the San Francisco Chronicle reported he spent nearly $25,000 on the drug and syringes from 2002-05 – before HGH was banned by Major League Baseball.

The Indians lost 12-2 to the Red Sox, who broke open a 5-2 game with six runs in the eighth inning and advanced to the World Series for the second time in four years. Boston will host Game 1 against the Colorado Rockies tomorrow night.

Mitchell said his office was contacted by people accusing him of leaking information on Byrd to the media. The former Senate Majority Leader released a statement from his New York office to “correct that mistaken impression.”

“Neither I nor any member of my investigative staff had anything whatsoever to do with the publication of the allegations about Mr. Byrd,” the statement said. “We had no prior knowledge of those allegations, and we first learned of them, along with the rest of the public, through news accounts.

“Any information obtained in my investigation will not be made public until the report is released in the near future.”

Mitchell has spent approximately one year investigating the use of performance-enhancing drugs like HGH in baseball and is expected to issue a report on his findings in November or December.

Byrd admitted to injecting HGH in the past, but says he has only done so under a doctor’s supervision. According to the paper, the 36-year-old, who won two games in the postseason, bought HGH from an anti-aging clinic in Florida currently under federal investigation for illegally selling performance-enhancing drugs.

During a news conference outside Cleveland’s clubhouse two hours before Game 7, Byrd said he has a pituitary tumor but would not confirm when he began using HGH or if he is still taking it.

Baseball banned the performance-enhancing drug in 2005, but does not test for it.

Byrd claims he has been working with major league baseball, a fact he said “shows I haven’t tried to do anything behind anybody’s back.”

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