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Extra Innings: The state of journalism vs. Barry Bonds

The legal proceedings surrounding Barry Bonds, his alleged use of steroids and the participation by BALCO in our nation’s realm of sports has sent a few men to prison. Unfortunately, not a single one of them is Bonds.

One of the men behind bars is Greg Anderson, Bonds’ trainer who, according to several sources, supplied the slugger with illegal steroids. Anderson went to jail after refusing to testify whether or not Bonds committed perjury in a previous federal grand jury. Anyone with any bit of sense can understand what occurred here. Had Anderson been able to state under oath that Bonds had not committed perjury, Anderson would have had no reason to not testify. The very fact that he refused to further paints Bonds as guilty in the eyes of the public.

The two recent victims of the Bonds storm are Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada. Why are these two men going to prison? Did they work for the BALCO labs that created the steroids? Did they give the drugs to Bonds and his other cohorts? Did they refuse to implicate the cheaters in our legal system?


They wrote a book exposing Bonds, Anderson, BALCO and a laundry list of other American athletes in terms of steroid use. Game of Shadows was released earlier this year and was based partly on the transcripts of the grand jury that investigated BALCO. These transcripts were leaked and the authors have refused to reveal to the courts the source of the leak. A judge has found the two to be in contempt and sentenced them to a maximum of 18 months in prison.

Let’s take a closer look at what’s happened here. The first joke of a hearing gave any baseball player that testified immunity from being charged with steroid use. Mark McGwire refused to talk about his possible steroid past, Sammy Sosa somehow conveniently forgot how to speak English, and Rafael Palmeiro waved his finger at those insinuating that he had ever touched steroids. A year later now, both Sosa and Palmeiro are out of the game with Palmeiro actually failing a steroid test.

None of these men went to jail. But two journalists, after researching and digging for the truth, are. Something is definitely wrong here. Disgustingly wrong.

I lay the blame for what has happened with several parties.

Baseball, instead of turning a blind eye to the steroid use devouring the game from inside and riding the wave of popularity that came with it, should have rooted out the cheaters and expelled them from the game. Not a suspension, not a slap on the wrist. Expulsion. Bud Selig, the commissioner, should have ordered every player tested. There is no infringement of rights here — why should athletes be excluded from the drug testing that goes on in any other job out there?

Sports, the commissioners of the leagues, the fans, the clean athletes being tainted by their cheating brothers — they all should’ve demanded action.

But unfortunately, that never happened. Steroids were allowed to have their way with the players, with the game. They chewed up and spat out careers, warped the record books, and forced the fans to look suspiciously on every accomplishment and every athlete.

Fans shouldn’t have to be the judge and jury on the steroid issue. There are real judges and juries to do that. Sadly though, they aren’t doing their jobs either. And that’s why two journalists who were just doing their jobs are now going to prison while Bonds and other cheaters continue to collect handsome paychecks.

I understand that the current system doesn’t allow for journalists to be afforded the right to withhold information from federal courts. But when the government isn’t doing its job, people Williams and Fainaru-Wada step in. That’s the beauty of a free press – it keeps everyone in check. In countries that have state-controlled newspapers, people will never receive truth or news that may offend those in power. There are those at every level who wish to censor the press since they don’t like what’s being said.

It’s a shame to see two honest, hard working men like Williams and Fainaru-Wada go to prison because of someone’s ego and arrogance.

Originally published in the Cardinal Courier (Volume 6-Issue 2; Oct. 4, 2006)
Bill Kuchman
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