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Home Run King Barry Bonds Now Leads the Majors in Indictments

San Francisco- Barry Bonds was charged Thursday with perjury and obstruction of justice for allegedly lying when he said he did not use performance-enhancing drugs.

The indictment, unsealed Thursday by federal prosecutors in San Francisco, is the culmination of a four-year federal probe into whether he lied under oath to a grand jury investigating steroid use by elite athletes.

The indictment comes three months after the 43-year-old Bonds, one of the biggest names in professional sports, passed Hank Aaron to become baseball’s career home run leader, his sport’s most hallowed record.

“My reaction is that quite frankly I was surprised that this indictment came down given the evidence that I knew that the government had as of today that would not support a conviction,” said Bonds’ attorney John Burris. “So therefore I’m thinking that you’re not going to indict unless you’re pretty comfortable that you can get a conviction. Now it may be that they feel that way. But if the evidence is based upon statements from ex-girlfriends or former business partners, they’re not going to get a conviction. It’s just not going to happen.”

“If there’s other evidence that I’m unaware of, and certainly they make reference to records and things of this nature, then that only means to me… they have to be authenticated,” Burris said. “Someone has to testify as to these records; someone has to indicate that what’s there is true and that therefore Barry knowingly made a false statement at the time he said that he was unaware and did not knowingly take steroids.

“So I think those are tough questions. I think the government has a tough case in front of them. Barry’s going to plead not guilty. He’s going to fight these charges vigorously. That’s all there is to it.”

Bonds, who parted ways with the San Francisco Giants at the end of last season and has yet to sign with another team, also holds the game’s single-season home run record of 73.

While Bonds was chasing Aaron amid the adulation of San Franciscans and the scorn of baseball fans almost everywhere else, due to his notoriously prickly personality and nagging steroid allegations, a grand jury quietly worked behind closed doors to put the finishing touches on the long-rumored indictment.

“There’s been an effort to get Barry for a long time,” Burris said. “I’m curious what evidence they have now they didn’t have before. The only thing that raises a red flag is… is Greg Anderson testifying?”

The indictment charges Bonds with lying when he said that he didn’t knowingly take steroids given to him by his personal trainer Greg Anderson. He also denied taking steroids at anytime in 2001 when he was pursuing the single season home-run record.

“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 reads.

He 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 that needed to be injected. “He knows I’m against that stuff.”

Bonds became the highest-profile figure caught up in the government investigation launched in 2002 with the raid of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO), the Burlingame-based supplements lab at the center of a steroids distribution ring.

Bonds has long been shadowed by allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs. The son of former big league star Bobby Bonds, Barry broke into the majors with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1986 as a lithe, base-stealing outfielder.

By the late 1990s, he’d bulked up to more than 240 pounds — his head, in particular, becoming noticeably bigger. His physical growth was accompanied by a remarkable power surge.

Speculation of his impending indictment had mounted for more than a year.

In July 2006, the U.S. attorney in San Francisco took the unusual step of going public with the investigation. After the previous panel’s 18-month term expired, he announced he was handing it off to a new grand jury.

Anderson was at the center of the investigation. He spent most of the past year in a federal detention center for refusing to testify to the grand jury.

According to testimony obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle, Bonds testified in 2003 that he took two substances given to him by Anderson — which he called “the cream” and “the clear” — to soothe aches and pains and help him better recover from injuries.

The substances fit the description of steroids distributed by BALCO founder Victor Conte. But when questioned under oath by investigators, Bonds said he believed Anderson had given him flaxseed oil and an arthritic balm.

Investigators and the public had their doubts.

Aiming to prove Bonds a liar, prosecutors tried to compel Anderson to testify. When he refused, they jailed him for contempt.

Bonds joins several defendants tied to BALCO. Anderson served three months in prison and three months of home detention after pleading guilty to steroid distribution and money laundering.

Conte also served three months in prison after he pleaded guilty to steroids distribution.

Patrick Arnold, the rogue chemist who created the designer steroid THG, BALCO vice president James Valente and track coach Remi Korchemny all also pleaded guilty. Korchemny and Valente were sentenced to probation and Arnold sent to prison for four months.

Kirk Radomski, a former New York Mets clubhouse attendant, pleaded guilty April 27 to drug and money laundering charges.

Elite cyclist Tammy Thomas and track coach Trevor Graham have each pleaded not guilty to lying to a grand jury and federal investigators about their involvement with steroids.

Dozens of other prominent athletes have been connected to BALCO, including New York Yankees slugger Jason Giambi who told the grand jury he injected steroids purchased at BALCO and Detroit Tigers outfielder Gary Sheffield who testified that Bonds introduced him to BALCO.


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