- The Washington Times - Friday, January 12, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Barry Bonds said he did not get amphetamines from teammate Mark Sweeney, but did not deny a report yesterday saying he tested positive for the drugs last season.

According to a story in the New York Daily News, the San Francisco slugger failed an amphetamines test in 2006. The newspaper reported that when first informed of the positive result, Bonds attributed it to a substance he had taken from Sweeney’s locker.

“He is both my teammate and my friend,” Bonds said. “He did not give me anything whatsoever and has nothing to do with this matter, contrary to recent reports.

“I want to express my deepest apologies especially to Mark and his family as well as my other teammates, the San Francisco Giants organization and the fans,” he said.

That’s all the Giants star, shadowed by steroids claims and only 22 home runs from breaking Hank Aaron’s career home run record, said about the supposed positive drug test. Bonds has steadfastly denied used performance-enhancing drugs.

“Obviously, we’re pleased that Barry has straightened this out,” said Sweeney’s agent, Barry Axelrod.

Bonds’ reported positive test could be another snag in contract negotiations with the Giants. The sides reached a preliminary agreement on a $16 million, one-year contract Dec. 7, but the seven-time National League MVP still hasn’t signed the deal or taken the mandatory physical that is part of the process.

The sides have been working to finalize complicated language in the contract that concerns the left fielder’s compliance with team rules, as well as what would happen if he were to be indicted or have other legal troubles.

“Last night was the first time we heard of this recent accusation against Barry Bonds,” the Giants said. “Under Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement with the Major League Baseball Players Association, clubs are not notified after a player receives a first positive test for amphetamines.

“The San Francisco Giants are strongly opposed to the use of performance-enhancing substances, including stimulants, by major league players. Major League Baseball has a strong policy in place to deal with the issue of performance-enhancing substances. The Giants will continue to be supportive of baseball’s efforts in this area.”

Rob Manfred, baseball’s executive vice president for labor relations, refused comment, according to spokesman Rich Levin.

“I don’t comment on the drug program, and I’ve never heard Barry Bonds blame anybody for anything,” Gene Orza, the union’s chief operating officer, said in an e-mail to the AP.

San Francisco’s brass and fan base long have stood by Bonds through his off-the-field problems and injuries. So have his teammates, deciding in spring training last year to support him every step of the way.

“There are so many substances out there right now you don’t know what you should take or what you should not,” Giants shortstop Omar Vizquel said yesterday. “Right now, I’m afraid to take vitamins for the same reason. You don’t know what’s going to be positive or what’s going to be negative. The best way for players is to stay natural. Anything with chemicals in it can be bad. I know what I do. I don’t know what the other guys do, and I don’t really care.

“I tell the younger guys, but you don’t need to be telling Barry Bonds and Mark Sweeney what they should take or what they should not.”

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