Bonds' doctor could be vital but reluctant witness for feds in perjury case

Barry Bonds' entourage would arrive at BALCO on Saturdays and after hours so that the slugger could have his blood and urine samples collected in peace. Dr. Arthur Ting was part of a group that arrived at the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative's Burlingame headquarters in November 2001.

The doctor that day drew Bonds' blood, an unusually pedestrian lab technician role for an otherwise prominent orthopedic surgeon to the stars.

But then Ting is known to go out of his way to cultivate rich and famous patients.

He once cleared his clinic's schedule and sent a limousine to pick up Siebel Systems Inc. founder Tom Siebel to squeeze in a last-minute shoulder operation so the Silicon Valley billionaire could recover in time for a golf tournament, according to press accounts.

Ting also hosted a birthday party at his Woodside home for former San Francisco 49er great Roger Craig and counted as patients former 49er quarterback Joe Montana and Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders, whom Ting befriended while Sanders was still in college.

But the relationship Ting carefully cultivated with Bonds over the last decade – including performing at least three surgeries on the home run kin – has put him squarely in the middle of the federal government's perjury case against Bonds.

According to the federal indictment unsealed earlier this month charging Bonds with perjury and obstruction of justice, two BALCO tests Ting helped conduct in 2001 came back positive for steroid use. Those failed tests will be used to bolster the government's position the Bonds knowingly took steroids, legal experts said.

Ting also operated on the injured elbow Bonds blew out in 1999. According to Bonds' former girlfriend, the slugger blamed the injury on steroids, complaining that the elbow couldn't handle the new muscle he had added.

So it came as littlesurprise when Ting was called last year to testify before the grand jury investigating Bonds for lying under oath about his steroid use. Bonds testified he unknowingly took steroids given to him by his personal trainer – an alibi prosecutors charge is a lie.

Now, Ting's expected to be a vital, if reluctant, witness for the government if Bonds goes to trial.

Ting's attorney Daniel Alberti confirmed Ting is still Bonds' doctor, which might put Ting in an awkward position.

Since there is no protection in federal court for doctors testifying against their patients like there is between lawyers and their clients, Ting has little choice but to tell investigators what – if anything – he knows about Bonds' alleged steroids use.

“The doctor can't try and protect Bonds,” said Golden Gate University law professor Peter Keane, a former San Francisco public defender. “The prosecutors will treat Ting like any other witness. If he doesn't tell the truth, he could be prosecuted for perjury; if he doesn't testify, he could be held in contempt.”

He also had to turn over Bonds' medical file to investigators before he testified before the grand jury in April 2006. Three months later, his son Ryan quit the USC football team after testing positive for steroids.

One topic Ting likely will be asked to discuss is the dramatic change he personally witnessed of Bonds' body.

When Bonds broke into baseball with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1986, he weighed about 180 pounds. When Bonds chugged around the bases Aug. 7 after slugging home run No. 756, the San Francisco Giants listed his weight at 228 pounds.

The San Francisco Chronicle has reported that Bonds' jersey size ballooned from a size 42 to a size 52 and that his shoe size went from a 10 1/2 to a size 13 cleats. Most telling was the growth of Bonds' head, which the Chronicle reported increased from a cap size of 7 1/8 to 7 1/2, eventhough Bonds now keeps his head shaven.

This new and unwanted attention also has dredged up several unsavory incidents in the doctor's past, including two California Medical Board reprimands and a lawsuit filed against his former clinic involving billing issues.

According to Derek Longstaff, the attorney who represented Ting's three aggrieved patients, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation would bill the patients for appointments that didn't happen. The patients settled the lawsuit, which didn't name Ting as a defendant, and he left the foundation after the medical board began its investigation. Ting now has his own thriving sports medicine practice in Fremont.

The Medical Board reprimanded Ting in 1996 and again in 2004, when the California Attorney General alleged he “prescribed dangerous drugs and controlled substances to friends and acquaintances, particularly athletes, for whom he kept no medical records of for whom the medical records were fictitious, inadequate, or inaccurate.”

The drug allegations were dropped as part of his agreement in 2004 to admit to improperly supervising a subordinate. He paid a $15,000 fine and was placed on probation through 2009, which allowed him to retain his medical license and continue to see patients.

Ting didn't return telephone calls, and his attorney declined comment other than to note Ting is highly respected in the medical community.

He serves as team doctor for the San Jose Sharks and the San Jose SabreCats of the Arena Football League. Ting's also listed as team orthopedist for the San Francisco City College football program.

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