No one was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this year.

By no one I mean Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa.

Seems right.

The trio either admitted, tested positive or suspected steroid users are out in the parking lot, shuffling their feet like kids who knew they did something wrong, waiting for forgiveness anyway.

It's not coming any time soon.

This is not a simple issue of right and wrong.

No one disputes taking steroids is wrong.

What is in dispute because no one knows for sure is how widespread the use of steroids and performance-enhancing drugs was in baseball.

We know some of the names of most of the players, and most are not hall-of-fame worthy, but we do not know how many times a juiced-up hitter faced a juiced-up pitcher making the playing field illegal, but even.

That is why there are arguments that the voters should induct the best players of the steroid era because use was rampant.

There is the chance, and probably a very good one, that a steroid user will get inducted as long as he is not suspected or discovered. It might have already happened.

But Bonds admitted taking steroids although he claimed ignorance of what he was putting in his body and is a convicted felon.

Sosa tested positive in 2003. And Clemens, despite winning a perjury case in which he denied using performance-enhancing drugs, has long been a suspected user.

Ask any hall-of-fame voter, ask any fan, and they would say all three are guilty.

Bonds received 36.2 percent of the vote, Clemens 37.6 and Sosa 12.5. Those totals indicate few writers could look past the steroid issue.

It will be many more years of the same results for these three men.

They may outwardly say they don't care; that they didn't play the game to get into the hall or that they know they are good enough to be inducted. But when they look at themselves in the mirror, they'll know who's looking back at them.

Of the three, Bonds and Clemens were hall-of-famers without ever picking up a syringe.

They were great from the first day they walked on a major league field. In fact, I have heard some writers claim they would vote for Bonds because his numbers the first 10 years of his career (before he was ever suspected) were good enough for the hall.

But athletes do not get to pick and choose which years they want on the back of their baseball cards.

The hall of fame is for great careers, and while it does not require you to be a moral or even a good person, it does require that you play by the rules and a certain level of conduct.

Bonds, Clemens and Sosa took a shortcut. Their own abilities not good enough for them, they took drugs to enhance their prowess on the field, and that cannot be overlooked.

There has to be a punishment for what they did, and theirs is to be denied entrance into the shrine for the game's greatest players.

They will forever be known for their link to steroids. They cannot shake that. We no longer look at them as great baseball players. We look at them as cheaters.

And we are all taught as children, cheaters never win.

Patrick Murphy, of Humphrey, Neb., is a former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.