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Tom Smart, Deseret News
Dale Murphy watches his son, Jake Murphy, practice as the University of Utah football team practices at Rice-Eccles Stadium Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2011, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Ask former National League MVP Dale Murphy whether he thinks Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and others took steroids, and he'll present his empirical data: At age 37, he hit .143 with zero home runs. At that same age, Bonds hit a record 73 homers.

Murphy doesn't even mention that Clemens went 20-3 with 213 strikeouts at nearly 39.

So without actually saying it, Murphy is saying it anyway: Those guys are as dirty as a mechanic's fingernails. What to do about it?

Grant them amnesty, naturally.

You never know what reverse psychology will do.

The subject of steroids arose again last week when Clemens was acquitted of lying to Congress. That makes him the second recent Hall of Fame hopeful to beat the system. It came six months after Bonds was convicted of obstruction of justice, but nothing more.

Rocket Roger proved as untouchable in court as he was on the mound. Bonds? You might say he ended his legal troubles with a walk-off home run.

Not that either of them convinced the public.

"You and I are not the first to say that just because a person's not guilty of perjury doesn't mean he didn't take performance-enhancing drugs," Murphy said.

Still, the verdict is in: The feds can't win when it comes to prosecuting PED suspects. Better to stick to matters beyond the white lines.

Murphy, of course, is the anti-Clemens, a squeaky clean ex-Brave who had a fine career. The Alpine resident is a former LDS mission president. Not surprisingly, he eschewed steroids. That much seemed clear when he confessed a desire to stop spitting while at bat, because it was a poor example.

The numbers also indicate he didn't dope. Murphy hit 398 home runs in his career, but just two of them in his last two seasons. His stats tailed off the way they're supposed to when middle age descends. He retired in 1993 after 18 seasons with two MVP awards, seven All-Star selections and five Gold Gloves.

Not bad for a guy who didn't ingest anything more powerful than lemonade.

Murphy was in West Jordan on Tuesday, in conjunction with ExxonMobil's countrywide tour promoting minor league baseball and, of course, ExxonMobil. As part of the deal, Murphy agreed to change the oil for a contest winner.

"A 100-mile guarantee," Murphy said, mocking his mechanical skills.

For several years Murphy was low key about the issue of steroids, disapproving the practice but avoiding naming names. But in the interest of young fans, he has recently become more vocal. "Most of us have reached the same conclusion," he said. "Being found not guilty and not testing positive doesn't mean they didn't take them."

But rather than wasteful government grandstanding, he says the answer to drug cheating is an amnesty plan.

That's right, let his people go.

He says Mark McGwire wanted to confess to steroid use until a Congressman vowed to put him in jail, so he clammed up. It's a natural tendency to follow the old "X-Files" credo: Deceive, obfuscate, inveigle.

Murphy hypothesizes that if cheaters were told they could be forgiven after a certain time period, they might come forward and urge young athletes to avoid such pitfalls.

A clean confession might even improve their chances of Hall of Fame admission.

"I actually believe Clemens, Bonds and everyone's legacy would be better if they would talk openly about it and admit they did it, as opposed to saying, 'No, I didn't,' " Murphy said. "That doesn't help. It's more helpful to them and the kids and the sport if, instead of (government) going after them, saying, 'Look, we need everybody to talk about it,' instead of (them) denying it."

To use another "X-Files" line, the truth is out there.

Rather than convict past offenders, Murphy says, encourage them.

The sullen silence might even turn into a dandy just-say-no campaign.

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