Report: Bonds failed amphetamine test

Report: Bonds failed amphetamine test

NEW YORK -- Giants slugger Barry Bonds failed a test under Major League Baseball's amphetamine policy last season, the New York Daily News reported in Thursday's editions.

The Daily News, quoting several sources, said that Bonds tested positive and then initially blamed the results on a substance he used that he found in the locker of teammate Mark Sweeney. A source told that the story is accurate.

In a statement released on Thursday night, Bonds said he did not receive amphetamines from Sweeney.

"I would like to address the allegations regarding Mark Sweeney. He is both my teammate and my friend," the statement read. "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.

Neither Bonds nor his agent, Jeff Borris, returned phone calls from The Giants issued a two-paragraph statement on Thursday.

"Last night was the first time we heard of this recent accusation against Barry Bonds," the statement said. "Under Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement with 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. Consistent with requirements of the Basic Agreement, the club will have no further comment on allegations with respect to any player's testing history."

Commissioner Bud Selig attended a Brewers event in Milwaukee on Thursday night, but declined to talk about the report.

"I don't have any comment about Bonds," Selig said. "We have a policy, we have a very strong amphetamine policy, and obviously everybody knows what it is. ... The confidentiality of this matter is kept between Rob Manfred of our staff and Michael Weiner of the player's association. Anything I know about this I've read, and I don't know any more. There's no appropriate comment I can make."

Bob DuPuy, Major League Baseball's president and chief operating officer, declined to comment on the report when reached Thursday morning. MLB, in conjunction with the Players Association, has strict rules in its Joint Drug Policy about divulging the name of a player who tests positive, as well as the substance involved, unless it is so stipulated in the policy.

Rich Levin, a spokesman for MLB, also said that the rules in the drug policy precluded him from making a statement other than "under the parameters of the drug agreement, a player (testing positive for amphetamines) goes into counseling for a first positive test and is suspended 25 games for a second."

Under the rules for amphetamine testing, which were adopted last year, a first positive test is supposed to remain anonymous, with the player going into a clinical tract and subject to subsequent increased testing. A second positive test for amphetamine use nets the release of the player's name and a 25-game suspension.

This differs from the steroids policy, which was strengthened last year, but has been in effect in some shape or form since 2003. For steroids, MLB uses the so-called "three strikes and you're out" approach with no anonymity attached to a positive test. A first positive results in a 50-game suspension, a second a 100-game suspension and the third a lifetime ban with the ability to appeal for reinstatement after two years.

Asked whether he regretted that the amphetamines policy does not make offenders' names public after the first positive test, Selig said he does not.

"No," Selig said. "Amphetamines have been around for seven or eight decades, and this is the first time, on the advice of doctors and everybody else, that we dealt with it. But in fairness to people, it is very complicated, so I have no second thoughts about that at all. We banned amphetamines, and we're going to continue to monitor this all very closely.

"The important thing here is that we have a program, that program is being administered and everybody is tested."

The report comes at a time when Bonds remains unsigned for the 2007 season, although he has agreed in principle on the financial terms of a one-year, $16 million contract with the Giants, who are in the midst of haggling over contract language with Bonds and eight of their other incoming free agents.

Bonds, who with 734 career home runs is just 21 shy of Hank Aaron's Major League record of 755, is still under investigation for allegedly committing perjury before a grand jury in 2003 that was investigating a federal break-in at the headquarters of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO). During the hearing, Bonds reportedly told the grand jury that he had never knowingly used steroids.

But Greg Anderson, his former personal trainer, was one of five people indicted by the grand jury. He subsequently pleaded guilty and served three months in prison and three months under house arrest. Anderson is currently back in jail for refusing on numerous occasions to testify before another grand jury investigating whether Bonds perjured himself in the early phases of the case. At least three grand juries are known to have been empanelled in San Francisco to investigate BALCO and its aftermath.

In addition, the two San Francisco reporters, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, who printed the leaked grand jury testimony of Bonds and others who testified in the case were found guilty of contempt for not revealing their sources and are appealing that decision. The testimony was published at the time in the San Francisco Chronicle and later in a book authored by the reporters entitled, "Game of Shadows," which was released last year.

They are being threatened with jail time if they don't reveal their sources.

Sweeney declined comment about his involvement in Bonds' amphetamine situation, but the Daily News reported that his agent, Barry Axelrod, said Sweeney complied with the investigation.

"Mark was made aware of the fact that his name had been brought up, but he did not give Barry Bonds anything and there was nothing he could have given Barry Bonds," Axelrod said.

Sources told the Daily News that Sweeney, a reserve player, first heard about the test when Gene Orza, the chief operating officer of the Players Association, called him.

Orza told Sweeney to remove any problematic items from his locker and not to share substances with other players. Sweeney told Orza that there was nothing in his locker that would be of concern, the Daily News reported.

Orza, who could not be reached on Thursday to comment, declined to confirm or deny the report. He did tell the Daily News about Bonds: "I can say unequivocally in my 22 years I've known Barry Bonds he has never blamed anyone for anything."

Sweeney reportedly confronted Bonds, and Bonds told him that Orza misunderstood and he had not intended to implicate his teammate.

Among his teammates, Sweeney was one of the Giants closest to Bonds last season, having personally paid for engraved champagne flutes to toast Bonds on the occasion of the left-handed swinger passing Babe Ruth for second place on MLB's all-time home run list. Bonds hit his 715th homer in San Francisco against the Rockies on May 28.

It was known last year that Bonds was playing with the help of numerous prescription drugs that were helping him cope with the pain of strengthening his thrice surgically repaired right knee, and a left elbow that locked up during Spring Training because of floating bone chips. Bonds didn't try to hide his prescription drug use, keeping the bottles in his locker at AT&T Park and taking the pills openly.

Bonds underwent arthroscopic surgery on the elbow a day after the season ended.

Bonds underwent the three knee surgeries in 2005 and missed all but 14 games of that season. He returned last year to hit 26 homers, lead the Majors with a .454 on-base percentage and the National League with 115 walks, extending his MLB career mark to 2,426.

He hit .270 with 23 doubles, 77 RBIs and 74 runs scored in 130 games, despite hitting .235 as late as Aug. 19. His double in his final at-bat of the season was his 99th hit of the year, pulling him 159 short of the 3,000-hit mark. The RBI count has him 69 away from 2,000.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for reporter Adam McCalvy contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.