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Baseball Slugger Barry Bonds Nears Home Run Record


Baseball fans around the world have watched Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants pursue a date with destiny. The Giants' home run slugger first eclipsed Babe Ruth's home run total of 714, then set his sights on baseball's all-time record of 755, set by Hank Aaron more than 30 years ago. But Bonds' race toward the record books has been controversial because of allegations that his power at the plate was achieved through steroid use. VOA's Robert Raffaele has more.

With each home run the past two seasons, Barry Bonds has inched ever so closer to a hallowed baseball benchmark - the 755 home runs hit by Hank Aaron during his career.

But instead of the wild enthusiasm that has greeted other baseball achievements, Bonds' pursuit of history has been greeted with derision and even indifference by fans and sports journalists.

The reason -- allegations that he used now-outlawed performance-enhancing steroids.
Bonds' repeated denials and claims of innocence have been met with scorn by disbelieving fans.

"Cheating is always wrong,” says Daniel Kramer, a baseball fan. “It's wrong on your high school tests, it's wrong on your girlfriend, and its definitely wrong in baseball."

The allegations were detailed in the 2003 book "Game of Shawdows," which led to a grand jury investigation. Bonds eventually testified he thought his trainer had given him arthritis balm and flaxseed oil. His trainer pleaded guilty to steroid distribution and money laundering charges. Prosecutors are now investigating Bonds for perjury in connection to his testimony.

Other famous baseball players have faced allegations of steroid use.

As the controversy surrounding Bonds intensified last season, New York Times sports columnist William Rhoden defended the player's pursuit of the record. "Baseball did not have a Major League policy regarding steroids,” says Rhoden. “They do now. You can't go back and punish someone for something that did not exist. "

But the man who has heard Bonds' footsteps closing in on his record appears to have no love lost for the Giants slugger. "I don't have any thoughts about Barry,” says Aaron. “I don't even know how to spell his name," he added.

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