Houston Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada was sentenced to one year of probation Thursday in a federal court in the District for lying to Congress during an investigation into the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs in major league baseball.
“I apologize to Congress, the court, all the fans of baseball and especially all the kids,” Tejada told U.S. District Judge Alan Kay. “I learned a very important lesson.”
In addition to the probation, Tejada received a $5,000 fine and must perform 100 hours of community service.
Tejada, the 2002 AL MVP, faced up to a year in prison. However, federal sentencing guidelines called for probation or as much as six months in prison.
“Your achievements do not minimize the severity of the violation of law that brings you before this court,” Kay said. Congressional investigators “were trying to protect the sport that has provided you with and your fellow ballplayers with a living.”
Tejada waved to reporters but didn’t speak as he left the courthouse.
“We’re grateful for the court’s consideration, and he looks forward to playing ball,” said Tejada’s lawyer, Mark Tuohey.
Tejada pleaded guilty Feb. 11 to a misdemeanor charge of lying to congressional investigators by saying he did not know of players who used steroids and never had a conversation with other players about performance-enhancing drugs. Tejada was not charged with taking performance-enhancing drugs.
Investigators questioned Tejada as part of a probe into whether his former Baltimore Orioles teammate Rafael Palmeiro committed perjury when he told Congress he never used steroids. Palmeiro subsequently tested positive for a banned substance, a result he blamed on Tejada.
Palmeiro said a tainted diet supplement he received from Tejada caused the positive result. Investigators said they couldn’t find evidence to charge Palmeiro with perjury. But for Tejada, it was another story.
His plea made him the first high-profile player to be convicted of a criminal charge in baseball’s steroids scandal. Barry Bonds, the game’s all-time home run leader, is under indictment on charges he lied about his own steroid use, while a grand jury is considering whether seven-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens did the same.