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Sunday, 24 April 2011 20:43
Baseball, Justice Strikes Out In Barry Bond’s Steroids Scandal
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Jim BrownNow let me try to understand. Bankers, investment brokers and insurance magnets, whose greed and fraud reached into every household in America, don’t even get as much as a slap on the wrist.  But home run champ Barry Bonds will go to jail as the scapegoat for major League Baseball, which choose to turn a blind eye to how much drugs had infected the sport.  In walks the federal government who took on the role of the omnipotent umpire  When all is said and done, all parties to this pathetic case are real losers including the prosecutors.
 

 

The Feds spent close to $140 million in their effort to nail Bonds.  Compare that to the costs of the Clinton/Lewinsky investigation of $40 million.  After an eight year investigation where hundreds people were investigated, Bonds was convicted on one count of “obstruction of justice.”  The supposed crime is a catch-all offense where the accused is supposed to “attempt to interfere” with the judicial system, whatever that means.

 

Just what did Bonds do to “obstruct justice”?  According to the prosecutors, he was “evasive” when asked about using performance enhancing drugs.  He was essentially convicted of giving a long, rambling monologue to a grand jury of whether he knew if the substances he took were illegal. No federal crime was involved, the steroids can be legally purchased with a prescription, baseball did not ban such drugs until 2003, and it wasn’t until 2004 that baseball began penalizing players who tested positive.

 

So after spending well over $100 million, and carrying on a 10 year investigation involving hundreds of federal agents, the best the feds were able to come up with was that “he was evasive.”  And for that you could go to jail for up to 10 years?  By that standard, a whole host of presidential appointees should be in prison today.  Remember Valerie Plame?

 

It would be interesting to hear the jury’s reaction if the question would have been framed differently, by asking:  “If you have broken no federal law and the government has no business asking you a question involving your own private life, do you have the right to be “evasive?”  Why is some rogue prosecutor wasting time and tax dollars trying to force Bonds, or any other player into admitting that they had taken steroids that were not illegal at the time the substances were taken? 

 

Bonds is certainly no honorable fellow here.  He cheated to win a whole host of baseball records including being the home run king.  He cheated on everyone around him and his checkered baseball career will forever be imprisoned in a purgatory of suspicion and asterisks.  He tainted the game and should have been banned from baseball by the baseball powers that be.  But justification for a federal crime?  Hogwash.

 

Those who run baseball, including the owners, are also part of this scandal.  The major league officials just didn’t care. More “pumped up” players -- more revenue. Revenue tripled during the steroids era, as fans flocked to the ball parks to see records being broken.  In 2007, former U.S. senator George Mitchell prepared a report that connected dozens of baseball stars including seven MVPs, to using performance-enhancing drugs.  And baseball officials just looked the other way.

 

The entire Bonds fiasco was followed in great detail by law professor, Dr. Roger Roots.  He summed up the case by concluding:  “Since the first grand jury inquiry, the baseball steroid investigations have been typified by investigator misconduct, prosecutorial overreaching and fake grandstanding over infidelity to the rule of law or fair play in sports.  Baseball’s ongoing steroid self-inquiry is in fact a ten-year record of warrantless searches, coerced statements, illegal leaks, and strong-armed threats and intimidation.”

 

The Bonds scandal is the shame of virtually everyone who was party to this witch hunt over the past 10 years.  From Bonds, to the baseball owners, to the judicial system itself, there are no good guys here.  Those of us who follow and love the sport of baseball have every right to question the credibility of everyone involved in this whole sordid mess.  We fans are also the losers.

 

*****

"What bothers me is that you've got a very powerful federal government that has the money and time and resources to ruin someone's reputation,"Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia

 

Peace and Justice

 

Jim Brown

 

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers and websites throughout the South.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at www.jimbrownla.com. You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am central time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.

 

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