First Jason Giambi, and now, Barry Bonds, the Big Red One. According to the San Francisco Chronicle:
Barry Bonds told a federal grand jury that he used a clear substance and a cream supplied by the Burlingame laboratory now enmeshed in a sports doping scandal, but he said he never thought they were steroids, The Chronicle has learned.
...Bonds testified that he had received and used clear and cream substances from his personal strength trainer, Greg Anderson, during the 2003 baseball season but was told they were the nutritional supplement flaxseed oil and a rubbing balm for arthritis, according to a transcript of his testimony reviewed by The Chronicle.
It is most disturbing that testimony is being leaked to the public, but I'm afraid that the matter of civil rights will be lost in the hysteria that has already accompanied these findings. Giambi is on the cover of the New York Post this morning. The headline reads, "Boot the Bum: Why the Yankees MUST fire ugly drug cheat Jason Giambi TODAY."
The last thing that baseball, the Yankees or Giambi needs is Giambi showing up in spring training. In the weeks to come, there should be a meeting of the minds - Selig, Orza, the Yankees, Giambi and his agent Arn Tellem - to figure a way out of all of this. Before these leaked BALCO testimony revelations to the the San Francisco Chronicle, there already were serious questions about Giambi's physical condition and his ability to play.
In a perfect world, maybe his chronically creaky knee, his aching back, his parasite, his tumor and everything else ravaging his body would go away and he would regain some of his old form. But now it's out there. Giambi's world is anything but perfect, nor is baseball's, especially if he continues to be a part of it.
From here on out, as far as baseball is concerned, Jason Giambi is a dead man walking - a pariah to the fans, his employers and his teammates. He is an $82 million liability.
Characteristically, the Times is more even-handed. Tyler Kepner reports that the Yankees met with Bud Selig yesterday. It is believed that they will try and void Giambi's contract if at all possible. But it doesn't seem likely:
The Yankees' immediate concern is whether they have enough evidence to act against Giambi. They could try to terminate his contract or convert it to a nonguaranteed deal by claiming that Giambi violated the contract because of steroid use.
The players union would almost certainly object if the Yankees or the commissioner's office tried to take action against Giambi. The problem for the Yankees and the commissioner's office is that their only evidence appears to be the newspaper article, which would be hearsay.
Neither the Yankees nor the commissioner's office has legal access to grand jury testimony and would probably not take disciplinary action, or any other kind of action, based on the article.
If the grand jury testimony is introduced in a trial, the Yankees and the commissioner's office could then decide that they could use it to take action against Giambi.
Definitely look into the possibility of voiding the contract. The Yankees have had this in mind for a long time, but I seriously doubt whether they have legal ground to stand on. The collective bargaining agreement between players and owners supercedes whatever the Yankees might find in between the lines of his contract. In 2003, the most recent year in which Giambi admitted to using steroids in the testimony, there was no penalty phase under the CBA. The Yankees will try but it will be an uphill climb the size of Mt. Everest.
You have to wonder if Giambi will ever be able to rebound from this.