Fans say stop steroids

By Will Lester The Associated Press

WASHINGTON – More than half of America’s baseball fans say the sport has not done enough to curb the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs, an AP-AOL Sports poll found.

And two-thirds of baseball fans either have unfavorable or mixed views about Barry Bonds, who is under a cloud of suspicion about steroids use as he chases baseball’s career record for home runs.

The San Francisco Giants’ slugger, who had 709 home runs after Sunday’s game, is closing in on the career home run records of Babe Ruth, who hit 714, and Henry Aaron, who hit 755.

Bonds has denied in sworn testimony ever using steroids, although he acknowledged using two substances that he did not know were steroids. Prosecutors say those substances were steroids. Major League Baseball is also investigating Bonds’ possible involvement with performance-enhancing drugs.

The poll found that 53 percent say Major League Baseball has fallen short on keeping the sport drug-free.

Many fans say Bonds should not be allowed into baseball’s Hall of Fame if he’s found to have used steroids. But the timing of any alleged use appears to be crucial in public support for Bonds getting into the Hall.

Half the fans in the poll were asked if Bonds should be allowed into the Hall of Fame if he is found to have used steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs, and 61 percent said no. But the other half of the sample was asked if Bonds should be allowed in the Hall if he was found to have used such drugs only before baseball enacted rules against those drugs in 2002; 57 percent said yes.

The first rules against steroids agreed to by management and the union went into effect in September 2002. Testing began in spring training 2003, but penalties for failed tests weren’t in place until 2004.

Last fall, major league players and owners agreed to toughen penalties for steroid use to a 50-game suspension for a first failed test, 100 games for a second and a lifetime ban for a third.

The AP-AOL Sports poll of 793 baseball fans was conducted April 10-12 and April 18-20 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.