Speed Read: Bonds Steroid Case Suddenly Unclear

The Clear. It sounds like the name of a rock band with a vaguely Christian background, but we all know what it really is: the steroid concoction that Barry Bonds and other elite athletes took as part of their training regiments through BALCO labs as a way to cheat the system and produce jaw-dropping, chemically-enhanced performances. Technically, the drug is called tetrahydrogestrinone, otherwise known as THG, but The Clear is clean name for it when used by dirty players.

Barry Bonds fights the power

But YAHOO! SPORTS did some poking around some recently unsealed grand jury testimony from expert witnesses, and found some very interesting facts. Like that THG wasn’t classified as an illegal steroid until 2005, well after the BALCO case broke and Bonds had admitted to using The Clear. Or that that lead BALCO investigator Jeff Novitzky testified in 2004 that ”there’s never been any studies to show whether or not THG does, in fact, enhance muscle growth.

So yeah, the drug that has become a code word for a designer steroid at the heart of the government’s perjury case against Bonds? It wasn’t actually illegal when he was allegedly taking it. That’s more than a monkey wrench being thrown into the government’s case - that an entire 48 piece Craftsman tool set.

The government is expected to claim that regardless of the legality of THG, they have proof that Bonds took other banned substances. But if that’s the case, why is it that the only thing we heard about was The Clear for the past five years?

So it’s time to be honest with ourselves: Barry Bonds is not going to jail. This case is teetering close to a total meltdown, and at some point the government either has to cut its losses or risk a series of headaches in court. There will be no Schadenfreude moment of him doing a “perp walk” to a federal prison somewhere in Kansas, no teary interviews from jail with ESPN. It’s not happening.

But now what? It’s an amazing coincidence that this news comes out the same week that Hall of Fame voting results were released, which showed that voters are apparently willing to make at least Mark McGwire a scapegoat for the “Steroid Era” in baseball even if he’s been convicted (or charged) with no crimes, a fact that didn’t bode well at all for Bonds.

So do voters do with Barry Bonds? It’s easy to keep him out if he’s convicted, or has the cloud of the BALCO case hanging over his head. But if it turns out that The Clear - the drug that people thought might doom his chances - wasn’t illegal when he was taking it, and perhaps didn’t give him any edge, how do you justify keeping him out?

Meanwhile, back in the world where we actually talk about sports - as in what happened on the field - the LOS ANGELES TIMES reports that the Lakers had themselves a little bit of a Texas Train Wreck against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night. First, with the Lakers clinging to a 111-109 lead with 10 seconds to go, the Spurs’ Roger Mason was fouled by Derek Fisher while scoring, setting up a three-point play to give San Antonio a one point lead.

Roger Mason

That’s ugly, but what happened next was worse. With a chance to win the game, Kobe Bryant (who had drained a three pointer the previous possession to give the Lakers their lead) took the ball and confidently … passed off to Trevor Ariza, who got all tangled up with Manu Ginobili and was called for travelling with 0.8 seconds to go to end the game.

What? No offense to Ariza, who is a good role player. But why in the hell is Kobe Bryant passing up a game-winning shot? If you ask him, it’s because he wanted to motivate Ariza and the team:

“I could have rose up and shot it myself, but I felt like if one of my teammates, particularly Trevor, to get that opportunity just to drain a shot or something like that, he just takes his game to a whole ‘nother level,” Bryant said. “It just didn’t work out.”

Which is great if he makes it, Kobe. But since he blundered the chance, you’ve probably crushed the kid’s confidence. Way to go.

  • Crime doesn’t pay, especially if you’re photographed doing it in a major national magazine. MMA fighter and avowed anarchist Jeff Monson has learned this the hard way, as THE OLYMPIAN has details of his arrest on vandalism charges after being photographed spraying anarchy signs and other graffiti on the Washington state Capitol building for an ESPN THE MAGAZINE story.
  • Jeff Monson

  • USC Trojan fans, get ready for the Mitch Mustain era to begin. Or maybe Aaron Corp. Or possibly Matt Barkley. Somebody is likely going to need to step in and replace Mark Sanchez at QB next season, as the LOS ANGELES TIMES reports that the junior will likely enter the NFL Draft.
  • Speaking of Kobe…he has a new viral video for Nike that involves him riding a horse and selling “ankle insurance.” NESW SPORTS has the video, but I can promise you this: I’ve seen fake commercials for insurance, and this is no Old Glory Robot Insurance.
  • Yet another installment from The Classy World of Elijah Dukes: the TAMPA BAY TRIBUNE says that the Nationals slugger has been ordered to pay more than $40,000 in child support and alimony to his ex-wife or face 90 days in jail.This is the same ex-wife he once reportedly texted a picture of a gun to with the words “You dead, dawg.”
  • Newly-elected Baseball Hall of Fame members Jim Rice and Rickey Henderson appeared on David Letterman’s show last night to deliver the “Top Ten Highlights of My Hall of Fame Baseball Career.” My personal favorite is hearing Rickey utter the line “I invented the first vibrating jockstrap.” I think he believes he actually did.
  • Two Sydney FC soccer fans wanted to show longtime player Robbie Middleby just how upset they were he was leaving for a rival team. So the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD says they attacked him in the stadium parking lot. Well I guess he’ll stay now!
  • MASN SPORTS catches up with Kris Benson, who is trying to make a comeback from a torn rotator cuff. Sadly, no update on his wife Anna, but we can assume that she’s still pretty hot.
  • Anna Benson

  • The VICTORIA TIMES COLONIST has the sad story of former major league pitcher Frank Williams, whose career was ended by a car crash in 1989 that sent him into a spiral of homelessness and alcoholism that led to his death last Friday at the age of 50.
  • TV10 NEWS in Columbus reports that Matt Sylvester, a former Ohio State basketball player who hit a late three-pointer to beat then-No. 1 Illinois in 2005, was arrested on Wednesday after he almost ran over a cop while leaving a Buckeyes game last week. Maurice Clarett thinks he could have done much, much better.
  • And in case you missed it…the Orlando Magic set an NBA record by hitting 23 three-pointers in their 139-107 win over the Sacramento Kings. Something tells me the zone defense wasn’t working on them.

You have a Hall of Fame vote. What do you do about Barry Bonds?

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