Over the Line? Critics Conflicted on Steroids Crusader

"Heredia put a layer of scum on this prosecution that was never scraped off," Stapleton answered. "I never understood why you brought this case against Graham."

Then there's the night of Aug. 9, when the Giants brought back more than 20 of their outfielders to celebrate the team's 50th season in San Francisco. A late invite was extended to Bonds, who could not find a job in baseball last season, was vacationing in Hawaii, and was not expected to attend. Twenty-four players were announced before Willie Mays walked through the centerfield gate with no introduction.

As the crowd rose, Bonds jogged through a left field gate and joined his godfather on his walk to home plate. An enormous roar went up. Mays soon addressed the crowd, and when he was done, the fans chanted "Barr-ree, Barr-ree" until Bonds took the mike. The stadium went silent as Bonds began to speak.

"It just feels odd to not be in uniform and the Dodgers are right there," said Bonds, pointing into the dugout at the Giants archrival. "I've beat you before, I'll beat you again. I'm not retired."

And the crowd roared again.

Frank Stapleton looked at a track coach he did not know, then a federal agent he found he couldn't trust, and decided the lawman was the bigger problem.

"My biggest regret is that I didn't hold out for not guilty on all three charges," he says now. "I never understood why the man who was dealing drugs wasn't the one on trial."

Next week, 12 people will hear that same agent say the baseball player who thrilled them for nine years is a cheat and a liar. Bonds' defense lawyers will point out that almost every drug dealer involved in this investigation was given immunity to testify against players. Like Stapleton, will they look at the baseball player and the federal agent and decide the lawman is greater of the two evils?

Will Obama Keep Up Govt. Role?

No matter what happens in the Bonds trial, this story will not end here. Not with a grand jury closing in on indicting Roger Clemens. Not with all the skeletons jumping out of A-Rod's closet. And not with the government still holding the names of 103 baseball players who have tested positive for steroids.

All of which saddles the Obama administration with another Bush administration adventure they have to clean up after. It was the Bush Justice Department that has spent more than $50 million on this investigation, and million more giving government a permanent role in policing drugs in sports. But last October, then-candidate Barack Obama told a national radio show that he believed policing steroids in sports was better handled by the leagues, not the government. Novitzky's new boss, Attorney General Eric Holder, said the same thing when he was lead counsel for the NFL in 2007.

Both men, one a former constitutional law professor, the other the head of the Justice Department, are certain to be consulted if there's a decision to be made about putting the CDT case and the identity of those 103 baseball players before the Roberts Supreme Court. At stake is the interpretation of the Fourth Amendment's protection of private records stored in computer databases.

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