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Even if the Mitchell commission finds nothing on Bonds, he still could be convicted of perjury for reportedly lying to a federal grand jury about unknowingly using illegal steroids known as the “clear” and the “cream.”

A sport that already has seen its all-time hits leader, Pete Rose, spend time in federal prison for tax evasion also could see its home-run champ land behind bars.

Then again, Bonds‘ reign atop the leader board may not last long. Unlike Aaron, who held the mark for 33 years, Bonds could be surpassed in less than a decade by New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who in the last week reached the 500-homer mark at age 32.

Bonds gave his wholehearted endorsement for Rodriguez yesterday.

“I’m not trying to set any bars,” he said. “Alex will break my record. Alex is a great player. He’s young enough to catch anybody. I’m rooting for him. He got through the first one [500 homers]. Each one gets a little tougher.”