- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Barry Bonds walked silently through the San Francisco Giants’ bustling clubhouse. Asked about a report that he had received steroids and human growth hormone from a nutritional supplements lab implicated in a drug-distribution ring, Bonds softly replied: “Get out of my locker.”

Similar scenes were repeated yesterday at other major league teams’ sites. From Florida to Arizona, the focus at spring training was on steroids again.

Citing information it said was given to federal investigators, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Bonds was given the substances by his personal trainer — who got them from the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative.

According to the newspaper, investigators also were told that steroids were given to New York Yankees stars Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield, three other major leaguers and one NFL player.

Trainer Greg Anderson gave the players the drugs from BALCO, according to information given to the government and shared with the newspaper. The report did not say how federal investigators received the information.

Bonds, Giambi and Sheffield have repeatedly denied using steroids, and last week Bonds said baseball could “test me every day if they choose to.”

All testified last year before the grand jury that indicted Anderson and three others in the alleged steroid-distribution ring.

THG, one of the steroids in the investigation, was not made illegal until recent months, and while the possession and sale of human growth hormone without a prescription is a crime, its personal use is not.

Steroids were not banned by major league baseball until late 2002 and testing with penalties didn’t begin until this month. Human growth hormone is not banned by baseball because there is no test for it, according to Rob Manfred, baseball’s executive vice president for labor relations.

Still, major league baseball was concerned about the implications of the newspaper report.

“We are very distressed about any situation that calls into play the integrity of our players,” said Bob DuPuy, baseball’s chief operating officer.

Rep. John E. Sweeney, a New York Republican, said players “involved in illegal substances” should have an asterisk placed next to their names.

“The trick to this thing is that some of these substances at different periods of time were not illegal or were not detectable,” said Sweeney, who introduced legislation that would criminalize some steroidlike substances, such as androstenedione.

Bonds refused to comment at the Giants’ spring training camp in Scottsdale, Ariz. The Giants also would not comment on the report, and teammates rallied around Bonds.

“He’s going to see new charges every day. We just have to be there for him and try to make this his sanctuary away from all this,” outfielder Jeff Hammonds said.

Bonds’ attorney, Michael Rains, issued a statement: “We continue to adamantly deny that Barry was provided, furnished or supplied any illegal substances at any time by Greg Anderson. This latest pronouncement is a complete disregard to the truth.”

At the Yankees’ spring training camp in Tampa, Fla., Giambi and Sheffield wouldn’t directly address the report.

“Speculation doesn’t bother me. It’s as simple as that,” Sheffield said. “I deal with it. You know I don’t like dealing with issues. You know I don’t like dealing with controversy. Nobody likes to do that.”

Sheffield signed with the Yankees as a free agent this winter after two seasons with the Atlanta Braves.

“To me, Sheff never looked like a guy who was doing steroids,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said in Kissimmee, Fla. “He looked the same as I always remembered him looking.”

Prosecutors released documents last month saying Anderson told federal agents he gave steroids to several professional baseball players. No players were identified in those documents.

Anderson’s attorney, Tony Serra, said Friday the trainer had seven professional athletes as clients — Bonds, five other major leaguers, and one football player.

Serra also said that Bonds “never took anything illegal” and that the slugger was offered — but rejected — a substance at the heart of the government’s case. That substance, according to government documents, was THG.

Anderson has been charged with participating in a ring that provided performance-enhancing drugs to pro athletes. Also charged were BALCO founder Victor Conte; the lab’s vice president, James Valente; and track coach Remi Korchemny. All four pleaded not guilty and are free on bond.

The Chronicle reported that two of Bonds’ former teammates — Marvin Benard of the White Sox and Benito Santiago of the Royals — and former Oakland Athletics infielder Randy Velarde also received performance-enhancing drugs, as did linebacker Bill Romanowski, who was released by the Oakland Raiders after failing a physical.

Benard and Santiago declined to comment at their teams’ Arizona spring training camps. Velarde and Romanowski could not be reached.

Citing an anonymous source, the Chronicle reported that Anderson provided Bonds with steroids and human growth hormone as far back as 2001, when the slugger hit 73 homers to break Mark McGwire’s single-season record.

Human growth hormone works like a steroid, building muscle mass and helping athletes recover from training. Standard drug tests are unable to detect it, but scientists are working to develop a reliable test before this summer’s Athens Olympics.

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