By Anthony Papa
The government tried to find baseball slugger Barry Bonds guilty of illegal steroid use, but came up short despite their herculean effort to convict him. The best they did was come up with a guilty plea in 2011 on one count of obstruction of justice which was just overturned by a U.S. Appeals Court this week.
During Bonds’s trial in 2011, the prosecution was hell-bent on convicting him and went to the extent of making the size of Barry Bonds’ testicles the crux of their case in order to prove that Bonds lied to a grand jury in the 2003 BALCO steroid case. In that case, Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) was alleged to have distributed illegal performance -enhancing drugs, triggering investigations by several governmental agencies.
This resulted in a huge scandal which involved many major league baseball players and in 2004, led to Major League Baseball to initiate penalties for players caught using steroids.
In the 2011 case, prosecutors called steroid expert Larry Bowers to the stand, the science director for the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency who testified that it was well-documented that with steroid use you can have testicular atrophy. The reason for this was to lay the scientific foundation to call Bonds’ former mistress Kimberly Bell as a witness. She then testified that she observed Bonds suffering from testicular shrinkage, bloating, hair loss and acne. All of those symptoms are documented side effects of steroid abuse.
Despite their testimony Barry Bonds was not convicted of steroid use.
The government was willing to take down Bonds and in doing so blemish baseball so they can push their personal zero-tolerance agenda for drug use. The steroids scandal of the past tarnished the credibility of some of the biggest stars in baseball which included Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens.
The jailing of Bonds or any other baseball player will not solve baseball’s drug problem or curb drug use in America. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. It has five percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, with more than 2.4 million citizens sitting behind bars. Many of them have been rotting away in prison for years because of the war on drugs.
For the sake of argument, what if Bonds did use steroids? Does he belong in prison? He is not the first athlete to use them and he will not be the last. The pursuit for athletic superiority through the use of chemicals has been around a long time. Before steroids were officially banned in the early 1970s, almost 70 percent of all Olympic athletes had used them.
Is it ethical and morally right to sentence someone to a lengthy prison term for putting substances in their own body? The premise for prosecuting the other war with no exit strategy – the drug war — has slowly but surely infiltrated the public’s eye through different vehicles. The feds attempted to bring their message through the sport of baseball by convicting the likes of sports heroes like Barry Bonds.
Though vindicated in part with the overturning of his case, Bonds will forever suffer from the stigma associated with the charges brought against him by the government because of their stance against drug use.
Barry Bonds has joined the ranks of those demonized which includes medical marijuana users, pain sufferers, and students who are forced to urinate in cups. All of this in the name of a drug-free America, without concern for individuals’ rights.
Anthony Papa is the manager of media relations for the Drug Policy Alliance.
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Author: Anthony Papa
Date Published: April 23, 2015
Published by Drug Policy Alliance
Via:: Ddrug Policy Alliance