Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Positive Drug Tests in Bonds Case

February 5, 2009
Positive Drug Tests in Bonds Case

The government’s perjury case against Barry Bonds gained vivid detail on Wednesday when more than 200 pages of evidence were unsealed. The pages included documents tying Bonds to four positive tests for steroids, calendars that prosecutors described as doping schedules, and a transcript of a recorded conversation in which Bonds’s former trainer is quoted as saying that he injected Bonds with performance-enhancing drugs.

Three urine samples that were sent for testing in 2000 and 2001 by the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative showed the presence of anabolic steroids, according to the documents. A fourth test from a 2003 sample collected by Major League Baseball showed the presence of the designer steroid THG, the fertility drug clomid and a form of testosterone not naturally produced by the body.

When tested under Major League Baseball’s program, that sample came back negative for performance-enhancing drugs. But after the sample was seized in a 2004 raid by federal agents, it was retested by the U.C.L.A. Olympic Analytical Laboratory, with a different and, for Bonds, potentially troublesome result.

Not all of the information provided in the unsealed documents is new. But the documents provide a more complete portrait of the evidence that federal prosecutors have gathered on Bonds since the investigation of Balco began in 2002. Bonds is scheduled to go on trial March 2 in San Francisco on charges that he committed perjury in 2003 when he told the grand jury investigating Balco that he never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs.

Bonds’s lawyers filed a motion two weeks ago to have much of the evidence in the case excluded, arguing that it could not be authenticated. As part of that motion, the defense lawyers filed the evidence in dispute under seal, not wishing for it to be revealed. But United States District Judge Susan Illston ordered that it be made public and has scheduled a hearing for Thursday about its admissibility.

“While it may seem damning now, the judge may exclude a lot of the evidence and it may never make it before the jury,” said Carl Tobias, a professor of law at the University of Richmond, in assessing the new information about the case. “But with all the attention being given to the case, the judge is going to have to be extra careful that the jury she seats has not been prejudiced by this information.”

Among the most intriguing sections in the unsealed documents is a description of what authorities said was a tape-recorded conversation, made in 2003, between Bonds’s former business manager, Steve Hoskins, and Bonds’s longtime trainer, Greg Anderson. Anderson spent more than a year in prison on contempt-of-court charges for refusing to testify before the grand jury investigating Bonds.

According to a summary of the tape and a partial transcript, Anderson told Hoskins that he had injected Bonds with performance-enhancing drugs and that they were not detectable under baseball’s drug-testing program at the time. Anderson also told Hoskins that he had advance notice of when the drug tests would be conducted.

“I’ll know like probably a week in advance, or two weeks in advance,” Anderson is quoted as telling Hoskins in the transcript. According to the documents, Hoskins was recording the conversation, which took place in the Giants’ clubhouse, because Bonds’s father, Bobby, did not believe his son was using steroids.

Hoskins and Bonds were childhood friends who became particularly close after Bonds returned to San Francisco to play for the Giants in 1993. The two had a falling out in 2003 and Hoskins later cooperated with federal authorities, telling them that Bonds flew into “roid rages.” In the partial transcript, Hoskins is quoted as asking Anderson if the drugs being given to Bonds were the same “that Marion Jones and them were using.”

“Yeah, same stuff, the same stuff that worked at the Olympics,” Anderson is quoted as saying.

And, Anderson added for emphasis, Olympians were tested every week. “So that’s why I know it works,” Anderson is quoted as saying. (Jones, an Olympic gold-medal winner, pleaded guilty in 2007 to making false statements about her use of performance-enhancing drugs and received a six-month prison sentence.)

Although the results of the three urine samples that Balco tested in 2000 and 2001 do not have Bonds’s name on them, prosecutors say they can be connected to handwritten notes seized at Balco and Anderson’s home in 2003. Those notes display the names of Bonds and other individuals and numbers that, prosecutors say, correlate to samples that Balco sent for drug testing. Prosecutors contend that the three tests show Bonds tested positive for two steroids — methenolone and nandrolone — in November 2000 and February 2001.

But in their 28-page motion to exclude evidence, Bonds’s lawyers said: “It appears that as to every proffered test result, the government can attempt to link Mr. Bonds to the sample in question only through purported hearsay statement of Anderson.”

In all, five pages of handwritten notes are attributed to Anderson, and in disputing them, the defense states: “The notes are barely comprehensible. Their author(s) are unknown as are the time and purpose of their preparation.”

The defense lawyers said the notes were indicative “of the government’s zeal to convict Mr. Bonds by any means at all.” They also said the doping calendars, which the prosecutors say Anderson created so he could monitor Bonds’s use of drugs, should not be admissible, either.

The fourth positive steroid test cited in the documents does not involve Anderson or his notes. Instead, it stems from the anonymous drug tests that were conducted by Major League Baseball in 2003, the first year of steroid testing on the major league level. There were no penalties for positive results, and not even the players were supposed to know how their tests came out.

Bonds’s urine sample did not produce a positive test under baseball’s guidelines. But in a raid in 2004, authorities seized the samples and test results of Bonds and the nine other players who had testified before the Balco grand jury. Two years later, the U.C.L.A. laboratory that retested Bonds’s sample concluded that it contained the designer steroid THG, known as “the clear”; clomid, an anti-estrogen drug used to stimulate natural testosterone levels; and the presence of testosterone not naturally made by the body.

Baseball did not test for THG in 2003 and did not begin testing for clomid until the 2007 season. Why Bonds did not test positive for testosterone in 2003 is not clear.

When Bonds testified before the Balco grand jury in 2003, he said that he had used the “clear” and the “cream,” a lotion with epitestosterone and testosterone, but did not believe they were performance-enhancing drugs. He said he believed the “clear” was flaxseed oil and that the “cream” was a balm for arthritis. He said he used the “cream” sparingly.

The New York Times reported last week that federal authorities had detected a steroid other than the “clear” and the “cream” in a urine sample from Bonds. The documents unsealed Wednesday said that testosterone had been detected in Bonds’s 2003 sample, but did not say whether the source was the “cream” or another anabolic steroid.

“You cannot tell from a urine analysis whether a person has used the cream or has been using other sources of testosterone, like gels, patches or injectables,” said Dr. Gary I. Wadler, an antidoping expert and member of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The documents also included a 2006 letter from Commissioner Bud Selig to Bonds notifying him of a first-time positive test for amphetamines, which does not result in a suspension. The test result does not appear to be directly related to the perjury case.

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