George Mitchell '54 has been selected to lead an investigation into alleged steroid use by Major League Baseball (MLB) players, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig announced Thursday.

The former U.S. senator's firm will have the authority to investigate whether MLB players used substances banned by the league's contract during the years 2002-2006, Selig said in a statement. Should Mitchell determine a wider investigation is necessary, he has permission to "follow the evidence wherever it may lead," Selig said.

Mitchell will be assisted by members of the law firm he chairs, DLA Piper of New York, and two other lawyers selected by Selig.

"Senator Mitchell is one of the most respected public figures in the nation," Selig said. "His career in public service is beyond reproach and his integrity and leadership ability are beyond question."

The Bowdoin alumnus has had previous experience investigating impropriety in sports. In 2002, he chaired a commission investigating the bidding process for the 2002 Olympic Games. Mitchell is also on the board of directors of the Boston Red Sox.

After graduating from Bowdoin in 1954, Mitchell served in the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps and earned a law degree at Georgetown University. He became a U.S. senator in 1980, and later served as Senate majority leader. In 1994, he turned down an offer from President Bill Clinton for a nomination to the Supreme Court. He left the Senate in 1995, and later led peace negotiations in Northern Ireland. He is currently the chairman of the board of directors of the Walt Disney Company, and founded the Maine-based Senator George J. Mitchell Scholarship Research Institute, which provides hundreds of scholarships to Maine students each year.