Seven-time Major League Baseball Most Valuable Player Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants sidestepped questions of steroid abuse.
In his first comments since his grand jury testimony was leaked to a San Francisco newspaper and published last year, Barry Bonds criticized the media for continuing to focus on his alleged steroid use.
Speaking at the San Francisco Giants' Spring training camp in Scottsdale, Arizona, the 40-year-old outfielder said reporters need to find something else to talk about.
"It is like watching [the 1970s television show] Sanford and Son. You know, just rerun after rerun after rerun. I mean you guys - it is like, it is almost comical, basically," he said. "I mean we got alcohol, that is the number-one killer in America, and we legalized that to buy in stores. We got tobacco; that is like the number two killer and we legalized that. I mean there are other issues."
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Bonds admitted in grand jury testimony in December 2003 that he used a clear substance and a cream given to him by his trainer, Greg Anderson. Anderson is one of four men indicted on federal drug charges in connection with a San Francisco Laboratory called BALCO.
Bonds was evasive when asked whether he thought taking steroids was cheating.
"I do not know what cheating is," he said. "I do not think, I do not know that cheating is going to - that steroids are going to help you in baseball. I do not believe steroids can help you, eye-hand coordination, technically hit a baseball. I just do not believe it. And that is just my opinion."
The seven-time Most Valuable Player also lashed out at former American League slugger Jose Canseco, who alleges in a recently released book that steroid use is rampant in the Major Leagues. Bonds said that he put no weight into Canseco's accusations, had always been a better player, and that Canseco was just trying to make money.
The San Francisco slugger also said that he is being criticized more because his career home run total - 703 - is closing in on Babe Ruth (714) and all-time leader Hank Aaron (755). Bonds said that Major League Baseball's drug testing program should be allowed to work.
"Allow the drug testing program to work. Allow it to work. Let us go forward," he said. "I truly believe that we need to go forward. Okay? You cannot rehash the past. If that is the case, we are going to go way back into 19th, 18th centuries and rehashing the past, and we will crush a lot of things in a lot of sports if that is what you guys want to do."
Major League Baseball's new steroid policy calls for tougher sanctions on first-time and repeat offenders. In announcing the policy last month, Commissioner Bud Selig said that his goal is no steroid use in the game.
"I have been saying for some time that my goal is zero tolerance regarding steroids," he said. "The agreement we will describe today is an important step towards achieving that goal. We are acting today to help restore the confidence of our fans in our great game."
Under the new policy, a first offense results in a 10-day suspension, 30 days for the second, 60 days for the third offense and one year for the fourth.
The policy subjects all players to at least one test each season. There will be no limit on in-season random testing, and off-season random testing is permitted regardless of a player's country of residence.
As for Barry Bonds, he might miss Opening Day as he continues to recover from off-season knee surgery. But the controversy surrounding steroid use in baseball looks likely to haunt him, regardless of his on-the-field performance.