Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bonds Innocent...ish?

Well no, probably not. But at least it looks like the government's perjury case against him isn't as much of a slam dunk as we've been lead to believe.

On two fronts, Bonds is looking at developments that may help repair the tarnishing of his name, a little. According to a Yahoo! Sports report, at the time of Bonds' alleged ingestion (?) of the cream and the clear, neither were considered illegal by the Justice Department. Secondly, and somewhat more juicily, questions abound regarding the effectiveness of taking said drugs and achieving enhanced muscle growth.

So what does this mean? Who knows. According to the report,

"This case has been presented as Barry Bonds lying about steroids,” said Christopher Cannon, a San Francisco defense attorney with extensive experience in federal perjury cases. “The government’s theory is that he was taking the Clear. If the government knows the Clear wasn’t a steroid – then when Barry said he wasn’t taking a steroid, he was telling the truth.”

Saying that Bonds was "telling the truth" might be correct in a technical sense, kind of like when a kid tell you the floor broke a glass, not him. I'm not a lawyer, nor have I been involved in too many legal proceedings, but perjury has got to be hard to prove. Infinitely more so when your whole case revolves around saying a guy lied about something somewhat ambiguous. So maybe Bonds ends up off the legal hook and the Bonds armor remains free of a previously assumed chink. But despite the idea that the cream or the clear were not technically considered steroids at the time Bonds took them, they still represent performance enhancement drugs. Right?

Novitzky: “He said it was another matter when looking at federal criminal law and the problem that you run into there is there’s a certain amount of steroids that are listed under criminal law that say: Hey, these substances are definitely steroids. And then there’s a catchall phrase that says if it’s not one of these substances, then if you can say pharmacologically or chemically related to testosterone, which in this case THG is, and you also have to show that it enhances muscle growth in human beings.

“And that’s the problem that we’ve run into with THG and which Dr. Catlin testified to the grand jury, is that there’s never been any studies to show whether or not THG does, in fact, enhance muscle growth.”

So...what? What Bonds took may not have actually lead to muscle growth? I don't know. But what if it turns out to be true that THG does nothing? Where does the steadfastly Bonds-took-steroids-and-we-have-proof contingent go then? Probably, reasonably, believing that Bonds took steroids, just not the ones we assumed. The thing is, we're not talking about androstenedione. We're talking about a substance with far more questions regarding its effectiveness.

Thank God for Yahoo! Sports and the report/investigation. While ESPN has turned into the Headline News of the sports world, there is still legitimate discovery happening in sports journalism without throwing a parade each time some new angle is uncovered (see: E:60).

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