Former San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds has the dubious distinction of being the first Major League Baseball player to be indicted in the steroid-use scandal. Bonds—Baseball’s Home Run King as of Aug. 8—was indicted on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice on Thursday, while still protesting his innocence. He is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on Dec. 7.
The federal grand jury said in the indictment, “During the criminal investigation, evidence was obtained including positive tests for the presence of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing substances for Bonds and other athletes.” In other words, Bonds is being tarred with the same brush as others in the Bay Area Laboratories Co. (BALCO) investigation. The “other” athletes? Jason Giambi of the New York Yankees, Ken Caminiti and Wally Joyner of the San Diego Padres, and a number of minor league players have admitted to using steroids over the past few years.
The grand jury has met for four years to come to its conclusion. The shadow of the accusations and proceedings hung over the 43-year-old seven-time National League MVP Bonds while he pursued his goal of breaking Hank Aaron’s career home run record. A short while after that feat, Bonds’ team, the San Francisco Giants, gave him his walking papers. They don’t want him back next year, and he is a free agent at this time.
Who to believe? Considering that MLB players weren’t even tested for steroid use until 2002, and not penalized until 2004, perhaps it’s the tale of too much, too late. And it’s not just MLB and minor league baseball players that have suffered scandal, confessed or not, from the illegal use of performance-enhancing drugs. In October, it was three-time Olympic track star Marion Jones, who admitted to steroid use after denying it for several years.
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