Selig denies reported Bonds investigation

Updated: March 17, 2006, 2:12 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Bud Selig denied a report saying the commissioner's office has already decided to begin an investigation into the steroid controversy swirling around Barry Bonds.

"There really is nothing new," Selig said Thursday night from the World Baseball Classic in Anaheim, Calif. "I spent the airplane ride out here today thinking about it and I'll continue to do that. ... I have made no decision. I've made no decision yet. You know, it's something I'd rather not discuss right now. I'll make the decision based on all the factors that are involved and go from there and do what I think is in the best interest of everybody involved.

"A lot of people write books and do a lot of things to sell their books, and that doesn't really come into play here at all," he said.

The New York Daily News reported Thursday that Selig is expected to announce next week that he is beginning a formal investigation into Bonds' steroid use, opening the door to possible sanctions against the embattled slugger. The report cited an unidentified baseball official.

 Barry Bonds
Bonds

The newspaper said Selig hadn't yet decided if the investigation would be done by Major League Baseball officials or outside investigators.

According to a report on MLB.com on Thursday, Selig's office hadn't yet obtained copies of the two books alleging Bonds used performance-enhancing substances. Because of that, and also because it hasn't yet been decided whether Selig will call Bonds in for an interview, a baseball official told MLB.com that Bonds probably would not be suspended before Opening Day.

Two league sources also told ESPN's Pedro Gomez that a suspension in unlikely in the near term, considering the league has no grounds for discipline, although that could change if the government indicts Bonds on perjury or tax evasion charges.

"That's not a big factor for me right now," Selig said about the possibility of perjury charges. "What happens with the grand jury and the federal government and Barry Bonds ... nature will have to take its course there ...

"Whatever decision I make will be on what I believe is what we should do and what is clearly necessary and is in the best interest of the sport. I'm not letting any other factor play a role," he said. "The fact of the matter is, as all of you know who cover me on a regular basis, I'm generally very cautious and it's stood me in great stead in my career because, frankly, you avoid making mistakes."

Bonds said Thursday that neither he nor his representatives have heard from the commissioner's office about whether baseball would launch an investigation into his alleged steroid use.

Two books that are being released this spring accuse Bonds of using steroids, human growth hormone and insulin for at least five seasons beginning in 1998 -- "Game of Shadows," written by two San Francisco Chronicle reporters, and "Love Me, Hate Me: Barry Bonds and the Making of an Antihero" by Jeff Pearlman. Baseball did not ban performance-enhancing substances until after the 2002 season, and Bonds has denied ever knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs.

Selig also faces pressure from Congress. On Wednesday, Rep. Cliff Stearns, who previously sponsored legislation calling for tougher drug testing in pro sports, sent the commissioner a letter asking about his role in policing steroid use from 1998 to 2002.

"As commissioner, you have the essential responsibility to safeguard the integrity of the game and to ensure that cheaters have no place in professional baseball," Stearns said in the letter.

Specifically, the Florida Republican asked Selig for information about a 2004 meeting with Bonds, baseball's policy for addressing alleged steroid use if a player doesn't fail a drug test and what Selig's authority is to investigate alleged steroid use.

Under pressure from Congress before last season, the players' association agreed to toughen drug testing rules and penalties.

Bonds broke Mark McGwire's single-season home run record in 2001 and is approaching Babe Ruth's career total.

Now it's just a question of whether his surgically repaired right knee is ready for the daily rigors of playing in the field.

Bonds, in the lineup on back-to-back days for the first time this spring, homered for the second straight day and made a brief appearance in left field in the Giants' 10-6 victory Wednesday over the Brewers.

Despite being hounded by allegations of steroid use and slowed by his knee, Bonds is in midseason form at the plate. He is 7-for-9 with three home runs and a double in four games.

He played in left for the second time this spring, leaving after his homer in the bottom of the second inning.

Bonds has 708 home runs in his career, seven shy of passing Ruth and 48 away from breaking Hank Aaron's career record of 755.

Selig would not publicly commit to an investigation last week.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

ALSO SEE