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Palmeiro joins list of those infamous quotes

First it was Richard Nixon, "I am not a crook." Then Bill Clinton said, "I did not have sexual relations with that women." And now Rafael Palmeiro claims, "I have never used steroids. Period."

Okay, let's clarify that last statement. "When I testified in front of Congress, I know that I was testifying under oath and I told the truth. Today I am telling the truth again and I did not do this intentionally or knowingly."

Late last week it was leaked that Palmeiro had tested positive for the drug stanozolol, a very strong steroid. The response this time was an indignant players' union upset with the fact the information was leaked and violated the collective bargaining agreement.

Leak or no leak, the issue here is Palmeiro did in fact take steroids. It gives credence to beliefs that others such as Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosahave done the same.

Maybe it's time to believe some of Jose Canseco's wild claims that he and Palmeiro played syringe darts with each other's backside.

This all leaves a dark cloud over any statistics, let alone records, compiled during the past 10 to 15 years. It also casts doubts about these players possible induction into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.

Pete Rose has been banned from the game because he broke the No. 1 rule that players cannot gamble. Rose's statistics and records are all legitimate, but he's locked out of the Hall of Fame not because he cheated, but because he broke a baseball rule.

Players who cheat are permitted - and have been elected - into the Hall of Fame. Pitcher Gaylord Perry won more than 300 games loading up the baseball with illegal substances and even wrote a book to confess such acts.

That's right. Perry is in the Hall of Fame.

Palmeiro had a ticket to Cooperstown as one of only four players in history with 500 home runs and 3,000 hits. Like Bonds, Palmeiro was considered a singles hitter when he broke into baseball. Over the years, he transformed into a player who currently sits ninth on the all-time home run list.

A sports writer on a radio talk show last week said he would vote for Palmeiro because there is no evidence that steroids enhance players' abilities.

I think they had to go to a commercial when the writer said Santa Claus stayed in the beach house next to him at Myrtle Beach and that he was always one of the first people to get his Easter candy because the Easter Bunny was a relative of his mother.

The biggest question remains, though. How could Palmeiro, having already testified before Congress and publicly proclaiming his innocence, take steroids? Palmeiro raised the question himself and said, "It just makes no sense. I'm not a crazy person."

We don't have enough space to debate that subject, so we'll move on.

Slapping the wrists of players with a 10-game suspension won't stop steroid use. The three strikes policy won't deter the players, either. The chance to make millions of dollars is worth the risk for the players.

Baseball needs to suspend players an entire season on the first offense and then ban them on the second positive test. When baseball hits the players where it hurts the most - their bank accounts - then the steroid problem will clear up itself.

Unless it's that clear cream Bonds uses that he didn't know was laced with steroids. Hmm. Maybe Nixon, Clinton and Palmeiro should use one of Bonds' quotes.

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.