Assault. Rape. Suicide. You name it, Jose.

I don't disagree with Canseco's premise that, in moderation with supervision, steroids and growth hormone can be highly effective and relatively safe for some humans. Beyond Canseco, I've heard that from too many fitness experts and scientists who specialize in body building.

But what is moderation when you're talking about the pressure to set home-run records – or to show your friends (and girlfriend) that you can win a starting position on the high school (or middle school) football team? And how fair is it to lose your position to a guy who's shooting himself full of illegal drugs when you're clean?

That's why I was happy that Thursday's hearing exposed McGwire for what he is: A "beloved hero" who certainly sounded as if he cheated to break Roger Maris' 37-year-old home run record.

And those who were outraged over the elephant that wasn't in the congressional room – Barry Bonds, who broke McGwire's single-season record and who's on course to break Hank Aaron's career record – should now realize why he wasn't subpoenaed. Bonds now risks far more than a tainted legacy. Bonds must worry about a potential perjury charge.

Congress couldn't interfere in the ongoing BALCO case that could involve Bonds as a witness or a defendant.

As the congressional hearing was going on – and on – in Washington on Thursday, the BALCO grand jury was questioning Bonds' ex-girlfriend, Kimberly Bell, in San Francisco (that's according to a Sunday story in the San Francisco Chronicle). She says Bonds told her in 2000 that he was taking steroids orally. Bonds told the grand jury he "unknowingly" took the designer steroid THG for a short while, only because his friend and trainer Greg Anderson led him to believe it was something like flaxseed oil.

But here's the best part: Bell says the reason he told her was because he was suffering from adverse side effects – quickly losing his hair, breaking out in acne, bloating and blowing out a tendon in his elbow because his muscles got too powerful.

There. That's what kids need to hear.

Yet when members of Congress pressed the sluggers on the panel to look into the cameras and tell kids how bad steroids are for you, their pleas came off as forced and phony. That's because they don't really believe steroids are bad for you. It sounds as if Canseco and McGwire, as young members of the Oakland A's, learned how to cycle on and off various combinations of steroids and growth hormone in fairly safe doses – and they obviously could afford high-grade drugs. Canseco, who calls himself the Godfather of Steroids, says he taught many other players how to use the drugs properly.

None of the sluggers questioned by Congress has grown an extra head. None has suffered any obvious debilitating side effects. But according to Bell, Bonds suffered from early steroid abuse. Jason Giambi, who reportedly told the BALCO grand jury that he used steroids, suffered a series of health problems last season – though it isn't known if steroids had anything to do with those problems.



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