Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) says he will introduce legislation imposing drug testing standards on professional athletes if baseball players and owners do not adopt a stringent crackdown on steroids by January, The Washington Post reports in its Saturday editions.
Separately, the lawyer for Barry Bonds said the leak this week of Bonds' grand jury testimony in the investigation of an alleged steroid-distribution ring was an attempt to smear the San Francisco Giants slugger.
In the grand jury testimony, New York Yankees star Jason Giambi admitted to three years of steroid use, and Bonds admitted using similar substances, although he said he did not think they were steroids.
In light of the disclosures about Bonds, McCain, in an interview with the Post, gave baseball until next month to adopt the more stringent drug testing requirements of minor league baseball or face federal action.
"Major league baseball players and owners should meet immediately to enact the standards that apply to the minor leagues, and if they don't, I will have to introduce legislation that says professional sports will have minimum standards for testing," the Post quotes McCain as saying. "I'll give them until January, and then I'll introduce legislation."
Under the threat of federal intervention, Major League Baseball officials promised rapid action to impose stringent drug testing, the Post added.
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig brought up the steroid issue on a conference call with representatives of the 30 major league franchises yesterday, a call originally scheduled to approve the relocation of the Montreal franchise to Washington, the Post reports.
According to two Post sources familiar with the phone discussion, Selig repeated what he had said on Thursday in Washington -- that baseball needs a tougher steroid policy, and that he intends to have something new in place by January, when team owners convene for meetings.
Bonds testified to a grand jury that he used a clear substance and a cream given to him by a trainer who was indicted in a steroid-distribution ring, but said he didn't know they were steroids, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday.
Bonds told the federal grand jury last year that Greg Anderson, his personal trainer and childhood friend, told him the substances he used in 2003 were the nutritional supplement flaxseed oil and a rubbing balm for arthritis, according to a transcript of his testimony reviewed by the Chronicle.
The substances Bonds described were similar to ones known as "the clear" and "the cream," two steroids from the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative at the center of the steroid scandal.
Bonds' attorney, Michael Rains, said the leak of the testimony was an attempt to discredit his client. Grand jury transcripts are sealed and the Chronicle did not say who showed them the documents.
Rains described Anderson and Bonds as close friends who had been training together for about the last four years.
"Greg knew what Barry's demands were. Nothing illegal," Rains said Friday at a news conference in Oakland. "This is Barry's best friend in the world. Barry trusted him. He trusts him today. He trusts that he never got anything illegal from Greg Anderson."
Even if the substances Bonds took were steroids, Rains said they were not banned by baseball at the time and the slugger believed they were natural. Bonds also maintains the substances did nothing to aid his rise as one of the game's greatest home run hitters, Rains said.
"Barry was tested several times this year and the results of those tests were negative," said Bonds' agent, Jeff Borris.
"He put together statistically one of the most remarkable seasons ever," Borris said in an interview. "There are people in this world whose sole purpose is to try and figure out ways on how to undermine the accomplishments of others."
Giants spokesman Blake Rhodes said the team wouldn't comment and directed all questions to the commissioner's office.
Tony Serra, Anderson's lawyer, said Anderson "never knowingly provided illegal substances to anyone."
The revelation of Bonds' grand jury testimony was one of a series of developments in the BALCO probe, which led to indictments against four men in February.
ABC News and ESPN the Magazine interviewed BALCO founder Victor Conte, one of those charged in the case, and he said that he watched Olympic track star Marion Jones inject herself in the leg with human growth hormone. Jones' attorneys denied she ever used performance-enhancing drugs. Conte's interview with ABC's "20/20" program aired Friday night.
Dozens of elite athletes testified before the grand jury last year, including baseball stars Bonds, Giambi and Gary Sheffield, and track stars Jones, Kelli White and Tim Montgomery.
But Bonds is the biggest star of all, the holder of baseball's single-season home run record of 73 in 2001 and the man who could break Hank Aaron's career homer mark of 755 as early as next year. Bonds ended last season with 703 homers and won his record seventh NL Most Valuable Player award.
It is uncertain what punishment, if any, Bonds could receive from baseball, which didn't have penalties for steroid use until last year.
Bonds said he never paid Anderson for drugs or supplements but did give the trainer $15,000 in cash in 2003 for weight training and a $20,000 bonus after his 73-homer season.