Steroid Issue Clouds Spring Training

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CLEARWATER, Fla.–The boys of summer are in full spring training mode with the nagging problem of steroids still hanging over the sport.

However, George J. Mitchell, the individual charged with getting to the crux of the situation, may have something to say about it before the season starts in April.

This is the same George Mitchell who has been a prosecutor, a federal judge, a senator (including majority leader), and a successful diplomat who negotiated a peace in Ireland during the Clinton administration.

Mitchell has a reputation for candor, integrity, and toughness. Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig was aware of those qualities when he named him.

Of course, the elephant in the room is slugger Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants. He trails Henry Aaron's home run record of 755 by only 24 homers. He could break the mark this year.

Bonds has been rumored to be on performance enhancers for some time. The bulk in his once lithe frame is conspicuous.

What steps will Selig take if Mitchell names Bonds as an offender of the rules? Or will Mitchell's report refrain from naming any players in an overall conclusion?

Recently, outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. of the California Angels signed a $50 million deal coming off his best season. His name has popped up as another alleged user. There are other names in the rumor mill.

Baseball has to face up to this problem, sooner rather than later. It has been a cloud over the national pastime for far too long.

The hope in this corner is that Mitchell spares no one who has been found using drugs in violation of the rules. The game does not need cheaters.

After Mitchell's report, it will be up to Selig and the players union to do something about it–and quickly.