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”.