Congress revisits Bonds

Panel passed on seeing him in '05

now it awaits Selig action

Baseball

March 09, 2006|By JEFF BARKER | JEFF BARKER,SUN REPORTER

WASHINGTON -- The congressional committee that decided not to subpoena Barry Bonds to a 2005 hearing on steroid use could consider summoning the slugger this year.

It depends largely on how Major League Baseball handles the accusations in a new book that says Bonds used steroids and human growth hormone beginning in 1998, according to the House Committee on Government Reform.

If baseball were to greet the latest Bonds disclosures with silence, then what is now only informal committee chatter could turn into serious consideration of whether to call Bonds and others to Washington, said a committee source, who declined to be named because it is so early in the process. "You never say never," the source said.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said yesterday in Phoenix that his office will "review all the material that's relative in every way. Obviously, we've only seen parts of things." Selig said he had no plans yet to meet with the San Francisco Giants' slugger, and it is unclear what role - if any - the players' association would have in such an inquiry.

The committee doesn't want to intervene unless baseball leaves so many unanswered questions that the panel feels it has no choice.

That was how the committee felt a year ago after retired slugger Jose Canseco's book accused Rafael Palmeiro and others of steroid use.

Eager to learn more about Canseco's allegations, the committee was disappointed when baseball declined to investigate. The panel then proceeded with its own probe, highlighted by a March 17 hearing in which Canseco, Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and other players and officials were subpoenaed. The committee helped pressure baseball into toughening its steroid-testing program.

The committee had discussed summoning Bonds to last year's hearing, but decided - although not unanimously - that his presence would be distracting and add little.

Now, things have changed.

In a new book, San Francisco Chronicle reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams detail Bonds' alleged steroid use.

The new book's allegations go "to the core of the game's integrity," says Rep. Henry Waxman of California, the committee's top-ranking Democrat. Waxman says baseball must "get to the bottom of this."

Bonds hasn't seemed enthusiastic about the committee's work in the past.

In September, when the Giants visited the Nationals, Bonds suggested that - in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina - Congress had better things to do than investigate steroid use.

"People are losing lives and don't have homes and that's a little more serious, a lot more serious," Bonds said at the time.

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

The Los Angeles Times contributed to this article.

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