Is baseball's steroid scandal about to make Hank Aaron the once and future home run king?
Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig reportedly is considering restoring the crown to Aaron, who lost it in 2007 to Barry Bonds.
Bonds is set to go on trial on March 2 on obstruction of justice charges related a federal investigation into the BALCO steroid scandal.
Bonds' trainer was indicted on charges he supplied steroids and other performance-enhancement drugs to baseball players through BALCO, leading to speculation that Bonds also had used steroids, allegations he denies.
"This is breaking my heart, I don't mind telling you that," Selig told USA Today in an interview published Thursday, disclosing that he is considering removing Bonds from the top of the home run list.
Selig has reportedly also been considering suspending New York Yankees All-Star third-baseman Alex Rodriguez, who admitted Monday night in an interview with ESPN that he had used steroids from 2001-2003 while a member of the Texas Rangers.
Sports Illustrated first reported that sources confirmed Rodriguez had tested positive in 2003.
Bonds broke Aaron's record of 755 home runs on Aug. 7, 2007, while playing for the San Francisco Giants.
Rodriguez, 33, reached the 500 home run plateau faster than any player in history, and is given the best chance to break Bonds' record. Rodriguez currently has 553 home runs.
Bonds and Rodriguez are the latest baseball greats to fall from grace because of performance-enhancing drugs.
On Wednesday, news emerged that All-Star shortstop Miguel Tejada might be deported to the Dominican Republic after pleading guilty to lying to Congress about using steroids.
Selig told USA Today he knows that the players union will challenge attempts to suspend Rodriguez, who admitted using steroids in 2003 when he was with the Texas Rangers. The testing policy's penalty phase wasn't instituted until 2004.
But the commissioner said he sent a memo banning the drugs in 1997 and reminded players and coaches that they were illegal without a prescription.
"It was against the law, so I would have to think about that," Selig told USA Today. "It's very hard. I've got to think about all that kind of stuff."
But on Thursday, Selig issued a statement in which he seemed to back away from the possibility of suspending Rodriguez.
"I am saddened by the revelations," Selig said. "What Alex did was wrong, and he will have to live with the damage he has done to his name and reputation."
He added that Rodriguez has "shamed the game."
Rodriguez would be the first player suspended who didn't test positive during the penalty timeline.
Tejada appeared Wednesday before a federal magistrate and said he lied to congressional investigators who asked about steroid use by major league ballplayers. He also acknowledged purchasing the drugs while playing with the Oakland Athletics.
"His guilty plea in this case may subject him to detention, deportation and other sanctions at the direction of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement," said a letter outlining Tejada's plea deal.
The misdemeanor charge of making misrepresentations to Congress can lead to as much as a year in jail. But federal guidelines call for a lighter sentence. Tejada is scheduled to be sentenced March 25, during spring training.