I will not argue that Bonds did not use steroids. When trying
to defend him, many people have used the "innocent until
proven guilty" defense, basically saying that, because we
don't have absolute proof that he used steroids, we can't act
as though he did.
However, even though most of the evidence that Bonds used steroids
is circumstantial, there is so much of it - including leaked grand
jury testimony from Bonds himself - that it becomes extremely
difficult to argue that he didn't use steroids. I don't know for
sure that Bonds used performance-enhancing drugs, but I feel safe
making that assumption.
So, how do I defend the actions of a steroid user? Bonds never
really did anything wrong. Before 2004, baseball had no rule regarding
steroid use. Bonds could have stood out in left field in front
of everybody and injected some steroids into his system, and baseball
couldn't have punished him.
In 2004, there was testing, but no real penalty; a player had
to test positive twice to be suspended, and people testing positive
just once weren't announced publicly. So, although it was technically
against the rules of baseball, there was no incentive not to cheat.
Baseball has denied that they knew about the steroid problem
beforehand, but if it was as rampant as we have been led to believe,
how could they not know? It seems very unlikely to me that nobody
in the MLB offices knew anything about the steroid problem in
baseball; rather, it seems much more likely that they decided
to keep quiet.
After all, with McGwire and Sosa chasing down one of baseball's
most famous records just a few years after a crippling strike,
how would the public feel if they found out their heroes were
using performance-enhancing drugs? The blame for the situation
has to lie with the game of baseball itself.
People argue that Bonds violated our country's laws by using
steroids. This is true, and morally, Bonds was obviously in the
wrong here. But the reality of the situation is that the period
from roughly 1994-2004 will be known in baseball history as the
Jose Canseco said that 85 percent of major league players in
the late '90s used steroids, although it is very possible that
he inflated that number to create publicity for his book. Ken
Caminiti put the number at 50 percent, and Curt Schilling agreed.