There's no room at the Hall of Fame — for now at least — for the boys of steroids.
Baseball stars Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were legitimate Hall of Fame candidates before there was any hint that they boosted their late-career accomplishments with performance-enhancing drugs.
But that didn't help them or other stars from Major League Baseball's steroids era — home-run sluggers like Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa — in the recent balloting for Hall of Fame admission. For the first time since 1996, no player — either from the steroids era or any other — was admitted to the Hall, and, strikingly, neither Bonds nor Clemens came close.
Holdover candidates like former Houston Astro Craig Biggio (68.2 percent) and pitcher Jack Morris (67.7 percent) came close, but they fell short of the required 75 percent vote cast by reporters who cover Major League Baseball.
Several of the players up for election for the first time were tainted by their activities during the so-called steroids era, with the stain spreading well beyond them.
Former baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent said that "everybody, including many who were probably clean, are subject to that judgment, and any judgment has got to be a cloudy one."
Although Clemens was acquitted in a perjury trial stemming from his denials of using performance-enhancing drugs, his steroid involvement was addressed at length in a report prepared for Major League Baseball by former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell. Bonds' use of performance-enhancing drugs also is not subject to real dispute.
Both Bonds and Clemens resented the results of the vote, but were not surprised.
In their cases, and others, the chickens are coming home to roost.
Prominent athletes are tempted to use these performance boosters to lengthen their careers and increase their earning power. But they leave a trail behind that all but guarantees discovery if anyone ever decides to look.
Not being admitted to the Hall — or a delayed admission — is a relatively small price to pay perhaps. But it's a price nonetheless, reminding that violating the rules has consequences even for those who once enjoyed the adulation of millions of people.