kevinrushforth/FlickrBonds, seen here in an Aug. 25, 2006 game, is accused of lying to a jury about his steroid use.
On April 8, 2003, San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds hit his 616th career home run – a bases-empty shot that provided the only real excitement for local fans in a 9-4 loss to the visiting San Diego Padres.
Also that day, according to a calendar that federal prosecutors say was written by his weight trainer, Bonds loaded up on banned drugs: a squirt of the BALCO steroid known as “the Clear” under the tongue; a shot of human growth hormone in the belly; an insulin injection; a dollop of a steroid called “The Cream” that was applied like a balm.
That’s the sort of detail that might help persuade a jury that baseball’s home run king lied under oath in 2003 when he testified that he had never knowingly used steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs.
But it’s also information that may never see the light of day in Bonds’ perjury trial, set to begin March 21 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.
In filings last week, federal prosecutors sought to fend off a new attempt by Bonds’ defense team to pare back the evidence they can use against the Giants star.
In 2003, Bonds told a grand jury that was investigating the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative steroid ring that he had never knowingly used steroids or other banned drugs.
That’s a lie, the government says, and their accusation underpins the 10 counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice Bonds faces.
In 2009, days before Bonds’ trial was originally scheduled, prosecutors were denied the use of what they called crucial evidence, including the results of some private steroid tests that allegedly verified Bonds was using steroids. Drug agents had seized the results in a 2003 raid on BALCO, a lab in suburban Burlingame near San Francisco International Airport.
But judge Susan Illston said the test results were hearsay, and thus inadmissible as evidence, and a divided appeals court panel upheld the ruling.
Then, as Bonds’ new trial date loomed, the slugger’s legal team, led by appellate expert Dennis Riordan, asked the judge to dump still more government evidence to “conform” the case to her earlier ruling.
This time around, the defense proposed dropping all mention of a long list of documents seized in the BALCO raid, including the doping calendars that weight trainer Greg Anderson allegedly used to track Bonds’ drug use.
To prevent the jury from getting any hint that the drug calendars exist, the defense proposed cutting about 40 pages from the transcript of Bonds’ testimony at the BALCO grand jury.
The slugger had been questioned extensively about the calendars. Pages are marked with his initials, while a simple code reflects each day’s drug use: “L” is “the Clear,” while “G” is growth. The calendars also reflect the Giants’ schedule.
The government’s evidentiary problems stem from Anderson’s continuing refusal to cooperate with their probe. Only the trainer is able to verify that the blood and urine that he delivered to BALCO for testing came from Bonds, the judge has ruled; likewise, only Anderson can confirm that the “BLB” noted on the doping calendars also is a reference to Bonds, the defense argues.
In 2003, Anderson admitted to federal investigators that he had distributed steroids to baseball players, and he later pleaded guilty to steroid-dealing after being indicted in the original BALCO case.
But from the start, Anderson balked at implicating Bonds, his wealthy client and his friend since their days playing Little League baseball on the San Francisco Peninsula. After he refused to testify before a grand jury investigating Bonds, Anderson was held in contempt of court and imprisoned for more than a year.
Prosecutors say they will seek to have him jailed again if, as expected, he refuses to testify at Bonds’ trial.
Without his testimony, the government shouldn’t be allowed to refer to any of the documents he is said to have created, the defense says.
“The defense apparently thinks their good fortune in Anderson’s refusal to testify works as a magic talisman that precludes any reference to the fact that agents found documents” during raids on BALCO and on the trainer’s condominium, prosecutors Matthew Parrella and Jeffrey Nedrow said in documents filed Friday. They urged the judge to let jurors see at least some of the material.
Based on the judge's earlier rationale, the defense has also asked her to bar the testimony of six former major league drug users who acknowledge scoring steroids from Anderson. They include former Oakland A’s and New York Yankees star Jason Giambi.
Also proposed for the evidentiary chopping block: a secret tape recording of Anderson describing the regimen of banned drugs he was giving Bonds to beat Major League Baseball’s steroid-testing program in 2003.
Steve Hoskins, Bonds' former business manager, made the tape in the Giants’ clubhouse as part of what he says was an effort to persuade Bonds to stop using steroids.
The judge has already said the jury cannot listen to much of the tape, including sections in which Anderson implies that he has an inside source who will tip him off before Bonds must undergo testing.
The defense has asked that the rest of the tape be ruled off limits as well. The judge is scheduled to take up the issues at a hearing Jan. 21.
Here, from court records, is a page of the doping calendar.