Problems increase for Bonds
Published 12:00 am Friday, January 12, 2007
By Janie McCauley
SAN FRANCISCO — Barry Bonds said he did not get amphetamines from teammate Mark Sweeney but did not deny a report Thursday saying he tested positive for the drugs last season.
According to a story in the New York Daily News, the San Francisco slugger failed an amphetamines test in 2006. The newspaper reported that, when first informed of the positive result, Bonds attributed it to a substance he had taken from Sweeney’s locker.
“He is both my teammate and my friend,” Bonds said of Sweeney in a statement. “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.”
That’s all the Giants star, shadowed by steroids allegations and only 22 home runs from breaking Hank Aaron’s career home run record, said about the alleged positive drug test. Bonds has steadfastly denied used performance-enhancing drugs.
“Obviously, we’re pleased that Barry has straightened this out,” said Sweeney’s agent, Barry Axelrod.
Bonds’ reported positive test could be another snag in contract negotiations with the Giants. The sides reached a preliminary agreement on a $16 million, one-year contract Dec. 7, but the seven-time NL MVP still hasn’t signed the deal or taken the mandatory physical that is part of the process.
The sides have been working to finalize complicated language in the contract that concerns the left fielder’s compliance with team rules, as well as what would happen if he were to be indicted or have other legal troubles.
“Last night was the first time we heard of this recent accusation against Barry Bonds,” the Giants said in the statement. “Under Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement with the Major League Baseball Players Association, clubs are not notified after a player receives a first positive test for amphetamines.”
Rob Manfred, baseball’s executive vice president for labor relations, refused comment, according to spokesman Rich Levin.
“I don’t comment on the drug program, and I’ve never heard Barry Bonds blame anybody for anything,” Gene Orza, the union’s chief operating officer, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.