The home run king wasn’t home free after all. Former Giants left fielder Barry Bonds was indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice Thursday and could go to prison instead of the Hall of Fame for telling a federal grand jury he did not knowingly use performance-enhancing drugs. The indictment charges — four counts of perjury, one of obstruction of justice; a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison — come three months after the former Giants star broke Hank Aaron’s career home run record, and it culminated a four-year investigation into steroid use by elite athletes.
While San Franciscans cheered his every swing and fans elsewhere scorned every homer, a grand jury was quietly working to put the finishing touches on its report.
“During the criminal investigation, evidence was obtained including positive tests for the presence of anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing substances for Bonds and other athletes,” the indictment said.
Shortly after the indictment was handed out, Bonds’ personal trainer Greg Anderson was ordered released after spending most of the last year in prison for refusing to testify against his longtime friend.
The 10-page indictment report consists of excerpts from Bonds’ December 2003 testimony before a grand jury investigating Burlingame-based Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative. It cites 19 occasions in which Bonds allegedly lied under oath.
“I’m surprised, but there’s been an effort to get Barry for a long time,” said one of Bonds’ lawyers, John Burris. “I’m curious what evidence they have now they didn’t have before.”
Bonds was charged with lying when he said he didn’t knowingly take steroids given to him by Anderson. Bonds is also charged with lying that Anderson never injected him with steroids.
“Greg wouldn’t do that,” Bonds testified in December 2003 when asked if Anderson ever gave him any drugs.
Prosecutors promised Bonds they wouldn’t charge him with any drug-related counts if he testified truthfully. But according to the indictment, Bonds repeatedly denied taking any steroids or performance-enhancing drugs despite evidence to the contrary.
The indictment does not explain where prosecutors obtained those test results, but they likely were conducted at BALCO. Bonds first visited in November 2000 and submitted to the series of urine and drug tests conducted by BALCO founder Victor Conte on every athlete who went through the lab.
Bonds said at the end of the 2003 season that Anderson rubbed some cream on his arm that the trainer said would help him recover. Anderson also gave him “flaxseed oil,” Bonds said.
Bonds then testified that prior to the 2003 season, he never took anything supplied by Anderson — which the indictment alleges was a lie because the doping calendars seized from Anderson’s house were dated 2001.
Bonds has long been shadowed by allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs. By the late 1990s, he’d bulked up to more than 240 pounds — his head becoming noticeably bigger. His physical growth was accompanied by a remarkable power surge.
The government’s steroids probe went public in September 2003, when federal agents raided BALCO. — AP