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Report of failed test could hinder new Bonds deal

SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds' reported positive test for
amphetamines last season could be another snag in contract
negotiations with the San Francisco Giants.

"There are so many substances out there right now you don't know what you should take or what you should not. Right now, I'm afraid to take vitamins for the same reason."
--Giants shortstop Omar Vizquel

News of the failed test, reported Thursday in the Daily News, is
the latest in a long list of allegations surrounding the slugger,
who will face more questions this season about whether he used
performance-enhancing drugs in his pursuit of Hank Aaron's home run
record.

According to the report, Bonds failed an amphetamines test in
2006, then blamed it on a teammate. The New York City newspaper
reported that when first informed of the positive result, Bonds
attributed it to a substance he had taken from utilityman Mark
Sweeney's locker.

Just when everybody thought the Giants were getting along well
for a change.

Bonds is set to begin his 15th season with the Giants only 22
home runs shy of passing Aaron's career record of 755. He and San
Francisco reached a preliminary agreement on a $16 million,
one-year contract Dec. 7, the final day of baseball's winter
meetings. 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.

Giants owner Peter Magowan and executive vice president Larry
Baer did not return calls for comment Thursday, but the team
released a statement on the situation. Bonds' agent, Jeff Borris,
and Sweeney also did not return messages. Borris repeatedly has
declined to comment on specifics of the negotiations.

"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
amphetamines.

"The San Francisco Giants are strongly opposed to the use of
performance-enhancing substances, including stimulants, by major
league players. Major League Baseball has a strong policy in place
to deal with the issue of performance-enhancing substances. The
Giants will continue to be supportive of baseball's efforts in this
area.''

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 AP.


A major-league source told the San Francisco Chronicle on Thursday that Bonds knew about his failed amphetamines test last season and told several people on the team about it.

San Francisco's brass 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
should not.''

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.

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
locker.

Sweeney's agent, Barry Axelrod, told The Associated Press on
Thursday 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.''

Bonds, who has denied using steroids and other
performance-enhancing drugs, long has been under the microscope. A
federal grand jury is investigating whether he 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 _ 130 games _ even appearing in day
games that followed night games, which he typically used to sit
out. He trimmed up after carrying extra weight early in the year
and seemed to bounce back well from minor injuries.

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 367 at-bats in 2006. 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 at their waterfront ballpark. The club 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.''

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.