Thu, Aug. 22

Baseball should rewrite its record book the way track & field has

As was the case last month with disgraced Olympic champion Marion Jones, the federal indictment against baseball slugger Barry Bonds was a long time coming.

Bonds faces charges of perjury and obstructing justice in the federal government's investigation of the Bay Area Laboratory (BALCO) steroids scandal, the same charges to which Jones entered a guilty plea last month.

While an indictment is not a conviction, the evidence that Bonds lied to authorities about being a steroids cheat is overwhelming.

Baseball and track and field have a lot more in common than being spring sports. Their athletes are among the worst when it comes to being chemically enhanced.

The question for Major League Baseball once Bonds is convicted is if it will treat his late-career assault on the record book in the same manner track and field has modified its tainted record book.

Canada's Ben Johnson dusted Carl Lewis over 100 meters in Seoul in 1988 and set a world record in the process.

Thanks to the tough stand by the International Olympic Committee, you won't find Johnson's name among the medal winners when reviewing Olympic history. Carl Lewis won that gold medal. Johnson does not even merit an asterisk.

He does not exist in the record book.

Ditto for his world record. The International Association of Athletics Federation track and field record book makes no mention of Ben Johnson in its lineage of World Fastest Humans.

The same goes for American sprinters Tim Montgomery and Justin Gatlin. Both lowered the 100-meter threshold during their careers, only to have their names removed from the record books for cheating.

In Montgomery's case, he never failed an IAAF-administered drug test. He never came up dirty. What he did do is testify, truthfully, that he was a steroids cheat.

As far as the IAAF record book is concerned, he does not exist.

To take it a step further, the International Olympic Committee has said that the three gold medals and two bronze won by Marion Jones in 2000 will not automatically go to the next athletes in line.

That's because Greek sprinter Katerina Thanou, second to Jones at 100 meters in 2000, herself was disqualified from the 2004 Games for drug infractions.

The IOC has said there will be no automatic upgrades for athletes in line for Jones' medals. They have to be above chemical reproach.

Certainly, track and field cannot claim to be an example of what athletics is supposed to represent. Chemical cheats have tainted the sport for decades. Its book of world records is highly suspect to anyone who knows the sport.

It's not the same sport that once produced a man like Casa Grande's George Young, who ran 5,000 miles a year in the Arizona desert and was the first American runner to compete in four consecutive Olympic Games. Suggest to Young that there is a drug-induced shortcut to success and he'll take your head off.

But where track and field can hold its head high is in the manner it deals with documented cheaters. They are stripped of their Olympic medals. Their names are removed from the record books. There are no asterisks.

They are only known as disgraced cheaters.

That's the model baseball should follow in dealing with Bonds' place in Major League history.

Ditto for the cheaters who came before him.

That list stops at Roger Maris and Hank Aaron.

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