Barry Bonds May Skate

So the latest news in the federal case against Barry Bonds is that Tetrahydrogestrinone, aka “THG” aka “The Clear”, was not technically a steroid when Bonds was on the stand in front of the Grand Jury.

There’s a full report on how this technicality may be Barroid’s get out of jail free card over at Yahoo. As you’ll read there, the gist of it is that, during the time that Bonds was giving his Grand Jury testimony in December 2003, THG was not categorized as a steroid by the Justice Department. In fact, the Justice Department didn’t recognize THG as such until 2005.

This technicality may allow Bonds to walk away unscathed, because if the letter of the law is specifically followed, Bonds may not have lied when he said that he didn’t knowingly take steroids — because when he said that, the Justice Department had not yet defined THG as a steroid.

What a crock.

This technicality doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. First of all, the FDA officially banned THG in October 2003 — why it wasn’t categorized by the Justice Department at that time is anybody’s guess. Most likely, it had something to do with the processing of paperwork. In other words, red tape. And as all law-abiding tax payers know, the federal government needs to generate massive amounts of paid man-hours to substantiate sucking our paychecks dry. A two-year delay between the FDA banning a substance and the Justice Department recognizing the ban sounds about right.

But more to the point is the spirit of the law. Technically, yes, the written law did not include THG. But that was only because the law was ignorant of THG’s existence. The entire reason for THG — and dozens of other “designer steroids” — is that they are undetectable BECAUSE THEY ARE AS YET UNKNOWN.

Bottom line is this: a steroid is a steroid is a steroid is a steroid. If you take an unprescribed drug for the purpose of significantly and unnaturally increasing your hormone production, then you are cheating. If you are taking a drug that has not been approved by the FDA, then you are breaking the law. Just because the drug in question is a recently invented strain that no urine test can identify, because the test makers have no idea of its existence, doesn’t make it legal. All it makes you is a rotten scoundrel who happens to have enough money and the right connections to stay ahead of the good guys.

So although Bonds may not have “technically” been lying when he said he wasn’t taking “steroids”, he was still breaking the law by ingesting a controlled substance that had not been cleared (pardon the pun) by the FDA. Does it make sense to anyone that he avoids punishment because Jeff Novitsky asked him if he “took steroids”, rather than asking “did you take a hormone-increasing drug banned by the FDA?” It doesn’t, of course, yet there’s a darn good chance that such a technicality allows him to walk away scot-free.

I know, I know — this has nothing to do with the Mets. But the issue of steroids and PEDs in baseball is a big pebble in my shoe, and I can’t help but comment on garbage such as this. And this news came to me about ten hours after I had to listen to Seth Everett on XM spout about how Mark McGwire would have his HOF vote because McGwire had never been officially found guilty of taking steroids (McGwire’s admission to taking Andro apparently doesn’t count). Every time someone gets away with cheating, or is rewarded for it, it simultaneously harms both the people who are playing by the rules and the game itself. In essence, a HOF vote for Mark McGwire is another way of telling Dale Murphy, Don Mattingly, and Will Clark (and countless others) that they were shnooks for staying on the straight and narrow. You’re telling the world that the concepts of “competitive sport” and “sportsmanship” mean nothing.

Maybe we’re already there. If so, it’s a sad day in American “sports”.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. isuzudude January 15, 2009 at 10:29 am
    Believe it or not, there are morons who want to live in Jose Canseco’s world of legalized steroid use (see: abuse) and that all types of performance enhancing drugs should be allowed in not just baseball but all sports. Hey, if the fans want to see players hitting 70 home runs on a regular basis, let’s give ’em what they want, right? But where people who support the use of steroids, or are willing to turn a blind eye on it, go wrong is that they forget to realize that steroids kill people. And I don’t want to be fed the garbage that if kept under a watchful eye by physicians and whatnot that players wouldn’t do any harm to themselves, because you’re always going to have the renegades who want to shatter all the records and cast their health aside for the sake of making money and gaining fame. If a drug is suddenly legalized, all it does is instigate the likelihood for abuse, not vice versa. Not to mention the drug will then fall into the hands of those too irresponsible to use it correctly, like teenagers and children. But hey, as long as we get to watch an entertaining baseball game, it’s all worth it, right?

    I’m with you, Joe. The topic isn’t about the Mets. It’s about something larger than that. It’s about right and wrong. McGwire should never be inducted into the HOF because he cheated, ruined the integrity of the game, and put the nation’s youth in harms way. I don’t care that he wasn’t the only one doing it during the “steroid era,” and thus shouldn’t have to face consequences. If everyone was cheating on their taxes, even though you knew it was illegal and wrong and you would be punished if caught, would that make it okay for you to do it too? Seth Everett may think so, but that’s why we call people like him pinheads. As far as Barry Bonds goes, the entire world knows he took steroids and lied about it, but the justice system in this country is too obsessed with excusing the guilty than prosecuting them. If it means anything, even if Barry gets away from doing jail time, in the court of public opinion Barry is already sentenced to life.

  2. joe January 16, 2009 at 11:12 am
    Good post, ‘dude.

    Everytime I hear Canseco or some other lunkhead talk about how everything should be legalized, I think of that SNL skit “All Drug Olympics”, with the weightlifter’s arms falling off as he tries to lift a barbell.