You read it everyday "steroids (anabolic steroids) were not banned in baseball (choose one)
- when McGwire and Sosa compiled the summer of '98
- when Bonds hit 73 home runs
- until 2003"
Wrong. Fay Vincent sent out a memo in 1991 with the official MLB policy (ESPN):
A year earlier Congress had raised penalties for possessing those and 25 other anabolics. But now the stuff violated baseball's rules, too. On June 7, 1991, commissioner Fay Vincent sent a memo to each team and the players union that stated: "The possession, sale or use of any illegal drug or controlled substance by Major League players or personnel is strictly prohibited ... This prohibition applies to all illegal drugs ... including steroids." The seven-page document didn't cover random testing -- that had to be bargained with the union -- but it did outline treatment and penalties.
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig reissued the policy in 1997.
It wasn't until 2003 that implementation occurred bringing random drug testing that the Player's Union and the MLB management could agree upon in the 2002 bargaining agreement.
Thus MLB clearly issued a policy against anabolic use; however it wasn't until 2003 that any sort of anti-doping control testing occurred. Users of anabolics cheated the rules, there is no other reality to the issue.
Under US statutes the acquisition of a prescribed medicine not ascertained by a physician has been illegal for some time. However the US Congress made anabolic steroids a scheduled controlled substance by revision of the Controlled Substances Acts of 1988/1990. Although always illegal, these substances now come under stricter regulation and control. Not just any physician could prescribe them. A physician needed to register with the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency (the FDA) and his state narcotics board. An FDA number is needed to write and dispense these drugs. The manufacture and prescribing of anabolic steroids are monitored by the FDA, and severe penalties given for doctors violating the law.
Barry Bonds can apparently use up to 7 illegal substances devoid of prescription without drawing undue attention from the Feds (until involved in BALCO); let any physician prescribe any of those substances to a patient without using an established diagnosis or proper prescribing procedure and he will face severe penalties from the government.
When everyone whines about how unfair life is to superstar Bonds, just remember that any doctor -- like James Shortt who wrote RXs for the Carolina Panthers NFL team -- who would behave so irresponsibly would be sitting in jail and likely with a poor prognosis of returning soon to practice. The players using the drugs go free. Some double standard eh?