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Friday, February 06, 2009

The Barry Bonds Trial

This week, the press has released a good deal of the federal government's evidence against Barry Bonds in his approaching trial on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. A federal judge unsealed a 223-page stack of documents that seems quite damning. The SF Chronicle summarized:
-- Positive tests on a urine sample originally collected from Bonds by Major League Baseball in 2003. The government says retesting proved Bonds had been using "the clear," also known as THG, the undetectable steroid distributed by the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative of Burlingame.

Also detected in the 2003 sample was Clomid, a drug sometimes used by male steroid users to mask their drug use or to jump-start their natural ability to produce testosterone after prolonged steroid use, the government said.

-- Three private steroid tests, done in 2000 and 2001, that allegedly show Bonds was using steroids at that time. The tests were ordered by BALCO to track Bonds' drug regimen, company Vice President James Valente told a grand jury in 2006.

All three tests showed Bonds was using the injectable steroid methenolone, and two also showed use of nandrolone, prosecutors said.

-- A 2003 recording in which [Bonds personal trainer Greg] Anderson described Bonds' use of an undetectable drug to evade baseball's steroid tests...

-- Testimony from Oakland A's slugger Jason Giambi, his brother and former Athletic Jeremy Giambi, and former Giants Benito Santiago, Bobby Estalella and Marvin Benard. All will acknowledge using banned drugs and identify calendars kept for them by Anderson to track their steroid use, the government said. Prosecutors say the players' calendars are virtually identical to calendars Anderson kept for Bonds.
Because Anderson has long refused to testify against Bonds, however, much of this evidence could be considered hearsay and the judge has already said that she is inclined to throw it out of his trial.

The judge did not threaten to toss out the 2003 conversation taped by Bonds's longtime friend and business manager Steve Hoskins, nor the results of major league baseball drug tests. One test used new methods on an old urine sample to identify a steroid that was not found at the time of the test.

I'm currently reading Game of Shadows by Chronicle reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, who originally reported about the Hoskins tape in 2004 and also revealed most of the other evidence years ago.

What I can report about the book is that the reporters' accusations about Bonds and other athletes matches closely what the federal government has against Bonds. Of course, this should not be especially surprising since an attorney for Victor Conte, founder of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) let them see copies of the secret grand jury testimony years ago.

The book provides a means to get a handle on the full story, though the writing is sloppy in spots. Its message is somewhat depressing and will make readers even more cynical about high-level sports.

Armed with the book's insights, one can use google and ruin many a good story.

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