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
Thursday, Bonds did not deny that but did apologize to Sweeney.
"He is both my teammate and my friend," Bonds said 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," he said.
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
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.
San Francisco's front office and fan base long have stood by
Bonds through his off-the-field problems and injuries. So have his
teammates, deciding in spring training last year to support him
every step of the way.
"There are so many substances out there right now you don't
know what you should take or what you should not," Giants
shortstop Omar Vizquel said Thursday. "Right now, I'm afraid to
take vitamins for the same reason. You don't know what's going to
be positive or what's going to be negative. The best way for
players is to stay natural. Anything with chemicals in it can be
bad. I know what I do. I don't know what the other guys do, and I
don't really care.
"I tell the younger guys, but you don't need to be telling
Barry Bonds and Mark Sweeney what they should take or what they
There's a long history of amphetamines -- or speed and more
commonly called "greenies" in the baseball world -- fueling
generations of baseball players. Many turned to the stimulants for
a way to get pepped up when their bodies couldn't do so on their
own during a long season.
The pills, widely used even until recently, helped with energy
for day games following night games and other times when players
were short on sleep, such as after a long cross-country flight.
Baseball banned the uppers for the first time starting last
season. A player is not identified until after failing two
amphetamines tests, which also results in a 25-game suspension. The
first failed steroids test, by comparison, is a 50-game suspension.
A first amphetamines offense, however, does require six
additional drug tests over the following six months.
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig wouldn't address the report
"Amphetamines have been around for seven or eight decades and
this is the first time on the advice of doctors, trainers and
everybody else that we dealt with it," he said. "We banned
amphetamines and that's very significant and we're going to
continue to monitor it all very closely."
Selig did say management and the union discussed the report
"I think maybe they have some suspicion on how it leaked out,"
Bonds did not appeal the positive test, according to the Daily
News, which said Sweeney learned of Bonds' positive test from Orza.
The newspaper reported Orza told Sweeney he should remove any
troublesome substances from his locker and should not share said
substances. Sweeney then said there was nothing of concern in his
Before Bonds' statement, Axelrod told the AP that his client
received a call informing him that his name had come up in regard
to the testing.
"He responded at that time ... he did not give anything to
anybody and he doesn't have anything illegal," Axelrod said.
"That was the end of it, as far as we were concerned, until
yesterday. We thought it was just a sort of procedural thing."
A federal grand jury is investigating whether Bonds perjured
himself when he testified in 2003 in the Bay Area Laboratory
Co-Operative steroid distribution case that he hadn't knowingly
taken any performance-enhancing drugs. He told that 2003 grand jury
he believed his trainer, Greg Anderson, had given him flaxseed oil
and arthritic balm, not steroids.
Bonds, who's coming off October surgery on his troublesome left
elbow, played regularly in 2006.
After missing all but 14 games in 2005 following three
operations on his right knee, Bonds batted .270 with 26 homers and
77 RBIs in 130 games last year. He passed Babe Ruth to move into
second place on the career home run list May 28.
Bonds has spent 14 of his 21 big league seasons with San
Francisco and helped the Giants draw 3 million fans in all seven
seasons with them. The team is counting on him to be part of the
hype leading up to its hosting of the All-Star game in July.
Bonds said he noticed an improved vibe in the clubhouse last
season with the additions of Steve Finley, Sweeney and Todd Greene.
The slugger was more sociable too, playing cards or chess with his
teammates or trainers before games -- and even making a rare
appearance in the team photo.
Bonds and Sweeney appeared to be good friends, with Sweeney
speaking to the slugger by phone recently this offseason.
"This year we had the best chemistry on the team. I felt like
the team was clicking," Vizquel said. "It's sad a stupid instance
like this might rupture something that was going pretty good. I
don't think the players will turn on each other. We are a veteran
team. We should know what [substance] is good and what is bad."