Although Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa were never suspended for or convicted of steroid use, their names forever will be associated with doping in major league baseball.
Rightly or wrongly, all three have lived to one degree or another under a cloud of suspicion that they were able to improve their play through the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Bonds, baseballâ??s career and single-season home run king, was convicted on a charge that he obstructed the investigation into the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, which was suspected of distributing tetrahydrogestrinone, a then-undetectable performance-enhancing steroid. He was acquitted of a charge of perjury, which stemmed from his claim that he never knowingly used the drug.
Clemens, a seven-time winner of the Cy Young Award as baseballâ??s top pitcher, was acquitted of a charge that he lied to Congress about steroid use. He steadfastly denied having used steroids or human growth hormone despite the testimony of his former trainer, Brian McNamee, that he had injected drugs into the pitcher.
Sosa, who ranks eighth on the career home run list with 609, tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003, according to a story published by The New York Times in 2009. Drug-test reports in 2003 were confidential, and baseball officials refused to confirm or deny the report. Sosa, too, refused to confirm or deny the Times story.
There is little doubt that the career of each player would have qualified him for induction into the Hall of Fame had he not been tied to steroids.
Chances are, when the results of this yearâ??s voting are announced next month, Bonds, Clemens and Sosa will have fallen short of the votes needed for induction.
And that probably is as it should be. It will send a clear message that cheating, or even suspected cheating, wonâ??t be tolerated.