Friday, November 16, 2007

Barry Bonds: Reviving the Salem Witch Trials or Castro's Purges

Anabolic steroids were criminalized in the U.S. in 1990. The American Medical Association (AMA), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) all opposed the classification of anabolic steroids as controlled subtances at the time because "use of these hormones does not lead to the physical or psychological dependence required for such scheduling under the Controlled Substance Act." Nevertheless, Congress ignored all scientific evidence in favor of a bizarre kind of morality which proscribes certain natural or synthesized substances as avatars of evil. Alcohol was such a subtance once. In 1919, its manufacture and consumption was outlawed by Constitutional amendment, which was subsequently repealed in 1933 when it was realized that it would take a great deal of alcohol to get through the Depression and the government could use all tax revenue that its sale would generate. Still, alcohol, unlike anabolic steroids, is certainly physically and psychologically addictive and could be listed as a controlled substance tomorrow if the government so decreed it.

When alcohol was an illegal subtance in the U.S., the government did not go after athletes who used it. The period of its proscription coincided almost exactly with Babe Ruth's baseball career. Was the country's most famous alcoholic ever indicted for consuming alcohol or denying that he consumed alcohol? Were his records challenged because he was almost always drunk or nearly-drunk when he came to bat, or indeed, drunk or nearly-drunk all the time? Alcohol, of course, can be a performance enhancer or not, depending on the individual. Clearly, it worked wonders for the Bambino. (General Grant is another example).

If Barry Bonds or any baseball player used anabolic steroids before 1990, they were guilty of no crime. After anabolic steroids were made illegal in 1990, athletes were tested periodically for the use of performance-enhancement drugs. Bonds never failed any drug test administered by Major League Baseball. Yet he has just been indicted on a spate of felony charges which could send him away for 30 years for allegedly lying to a grand jury about his alleged use of anabolic steroids, ten times as long as if he had been convicted of actually using them. This tactic, incidentally, was used to convict mobsters and traitors like Alger Hiss when the statute of limitations had expired or other recourses failed. For the offense of perjury Hiss received 3 years. Obviously, it's not as great a crime to betray your country — that is, to endanger the lives of millions — as it is to endanger one's own life (allegedly). Not only does the punishment not fit the "crime" but it is tantamount to what the Victorians used to do to failed suicides — hang them.

Does anyone besides me see a grievous miscarriage of justice here? Is this not an attempt to destroy the life and reputation of a man that many see as "unworthy" to wear Hank Aaron's mantle or Babe Ruth's? This kind of historical revisionism goes far beyond attaching an "*" to his records. It is the recourse of a judiciary turned star chamber, which is not enforcing the laws but creating new "moralities" to persecute. This is always the recourse of tyranny. If there is no evidence to convict someone of a crime (even one which was invented ex post facto to entrap him), then simply declare the defendant's refusal to admit to the crime as evidence of his guilt. It worked at the Salem witch trials. It's also what enabled Fidel Castro to murder 15,000 Cubans in the first year of the Revolution. In another parallel to Castro's Cuba, a judge in California has imprisoned Bond's personal trainer, Greg Anderson, for nearly a year for refusing to testify against Bonds. Since when is testimony compulsory in this country? That's another resourse of tyranny.

Well, let Americans take care of their own house (or not). A country that implements the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy is not beyond sending Barry Bonds to jail for 30 years for denying he used steroids. Para Cuba que llora, la primera palabra.


Charlie Bravo said...

Actually Manuel, that's what makes many people so happy, to live under a nanny state first, which will inevitably morph into a patriarchal monster, like fidel castro's omnipresent controlling state.
I am of the believe that each one of us is responsible for his or her acts, and that criminalization of steroids falls under such. But... wasn't the sports industry fueled by superhuman results only achievable through steroids?
This is equivalent to decapitate a gladiator for murder, after the crowds and the emperor cheered for him and gave him the thumbs down to kill his oponent in the Circus blood drenched arena.
The indictement of his trainer is very telling too.
In this country, as far as I know, testimony is not compulsory, and one can always invoke the fifth ammendment.
Of course, as you say, a false morality reigns supreme in these matters. A President could recognize his own use of recreational drugs (Bill I didn't inhale Clinton) comes to my mind as an example, but an athlete would be destroyed forever if he uses a substance that would keep him competitive in the sportsfields.
Because, as we well know, Barry Bonds is not the only one who used a substance.
I am just wondering when they are going to institute "la ley de peligrosidad" y "la ley contra la vagancia". They really go hand in hand with the Dry Foot Wet Foot in violating the written law of the land in this country.

joep said...

Guys, Bonds is indicted not for using steroids, but for lying about it to federal investigators. That's the issue, and I speak with authority on this, and am currently serving a two-year doping ban for testing positive for testosterone. Bonds COULD have walked the difficult but honorable path taken by other MLB players and admitted using steroids, if he did indeed do so (innocent until proven guilty). He was offered immunity in exchange for honest testimony, but instead, according to the government, chose to lie.

We'll see in a court of law whether they is enough evidence to support that charge. However, let's be clear - Bonds is NOT facing criminal charges for doping. In the USA doping is not a criminal offense. Rather, Bonds was indicted for lying under oath - just as Marion Jones did.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


The government did not give him immunity from the personal consequences that would attend the admission which it appeared to expect from him — namely, his banning from baseball. Why would Bonds admit to something that has never been proven against him? In fact, which test after test conducted by the Major Leagues failed to detect? It would be trading his innocence for a confession of guilt and his place in baseball for notoriety outside of baseball.

I am sorry for what happened to you. I honestly believe that you have done nothing wrong nor anything which a majority of other competitors don't also do but with better luck or resources.

Vana said...

I think that what they are doing to Bonds is a crime, they're smearing his reputation, but if OJ Simpson, got away with double murder, leads me to believe they will go lightly on Barry, at least I hope so.