Barry Bonds was a “secret” steroid user, and the secret of his drug use “was so powerful” that it impelled the former Giants star to lie under oath, a federal prosecutor charged Thursday.
But Bonds’ defense lawyer countered that the government had brought the jury “no – zero – evidence” that anything Bonds told a grand jury in 2003 actually disrupted the federal investigation into the BALCO steroid scandal.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Nedrow and lead defense lawyer Allen Ruby gave competing closing arguments in Bonds’ perjury trial in federal court in San Francisco.
Nedrow told the jury that when baseball’s home run champion was summoned before a federal grand jury in 2003 he was desperate to conceal his use of banned drugs.
The panel wanted to quiz Bonds about suspected steroid dealing at the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative in Burlingame, and “all he had to do was tell the truth” to the panel, the prosecutor said. That was because Bonds had been granted immunity from prosecution for anything except lying under oath.
“Why would the defendant testify falsely after receiving immunity?” Nedrow asked the jury of eight women and four men in U.S. District Court. “The reason is he had a secret and it was a powerful secret. ... He had been using anabolic steroids and human growth hormone as part of his training regimen.”
The prosecutor continued: “The secret was important enough that he didn’t want his father to hear about it, he didn’t want his employer, the Giants, to find out about it. ... The secret led him to false testimony that is implausible on its face.”
In an hour-long statement, the prosecutor said the government had presented ample evidence of Bonds' drug use. A retest of a 2003 urine sample submitted by Bonds to Major League Baseball showed the slugger was using the BALCO steroid “the clear,” the prosecutor said. He said a 2003 recording secretly made in the Giants’ clubhouse captured trainer Greg Anderson’s voice as he described the banned drugs he said he was giving to Bonds; and his former personal shopper said she saw Anderson give Bonds an injection in 2002, he said.
But at the start of his summation, defense lawyer Ruby charged that the government failed even to have a witness describe the workings of the grand jury, he contended. That was important, Ruby said, because to find Bonds guilty, the jury must conclude that he knowingly made false statements that were “material” to the grand jury’s work – that is, that they were relevant to the investigation. There was “a complete failure of proof” on the point, Ruby said early in his remarks.
In his testimony at the grand jury, Bonds said he had never knowingly used banned drugs, saying he had only obtained flaxseed oil and arthritis balm from Anderson. Bonds has pleaded not guilty to three charges of perjury and one charge of obstruction of justice.