Better known for his 762 home runs than his 8 gold gloves, Barry Lamar Bonds’s offensive skills will surely secure him a place in the history of sports. That is, of course, if his defenses succeed in U.S. Dist. Court in San Francisco.
As we reported previously, the former Sun Devil is currently charged with lying to a grand jury about knowingly using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). To be clear, this is not a trial about whether Bonds used PEDs; rather, this is a trial about whether Bonds lied about using PEDs. The potential consequences are dire for the former slugger.
The government/prosecution, led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew A. Parrella (home address found here), rests its case on several factors, including: (1) testimony from former players who got PEDs from Bonds’s former trainer Greg Anderson, (2) testimony from a former mistress and from a Giants clubhouse manager and (3) a urine sample from 2003 when Bonds tested positive for (i) synthetic testosterone “cream,” (ii) the “clear” (a.k.a. tetrahydrogestrinone), which masks steroids from drug tests, and (iii) fertility drug, clomid, which helps to bring testosterone levels back to normal post-steroid use.
Prosecutors have examined former players Jason Giambi, Jeremy Giambi, Marvin Benard and, most recently, Randy Velarde who testified to receiving PEDs from Anderson. For jurors, the prosecution hopes this establishes that at least some players concede to acquiring drugs (not legal supplements) from Anderson. Further, prosecutors hope the testimony saps Bonds’s defense that he thought Anderson was providing legal supplements. Excellent work, counselor. Whoa, whoa, whoa…don’t forget about cross examination.
One of Bonds’s defense attorneys Allen Ruby, former pro wrestler, attacked the dialogue taking place between these players and Anderson. Specifically, Ruby was able to establish that some players did not know what “cream” or “clear” was when they acquired it from Anderson. If Ruby’s tactic proves successful, juror(s) might just believe that Bonds, too, may have not known what he was taking and thus not lied when he told a grand jury he didn’t knowingly take PEDs. Clever, clever.
Testimony from a former mistress of Bonds, Kimberly Bell (seen here with Marco Andretti), was particularly gruesome and highlighted a potential dark side of the All Star. Bell offered that Bonds threatened to cut hear head off and leave her in a ditch. She also testified that he threatened to cut out her breast implants since he paid for them and burn down the Arizona house he helped purchase. She went on to describe Bonds’s decline in sexual performance during their relationship and even recounted the deterioration of his testicles before the public courtroom. Ruby and the defense countered by trying to demonstrate that Bell was nothing but a vengeful gold digger who benefitted greatly from the affair.
Prosecution intended testimony from Giants clubhouse manager Mike Murphy, who claimed Bonds needed a larger helmet after the ’02 season, to solidify that Bonds indeed took PEDs, since an enlarged head is a sign of human growth hormones. But that might not be necessary with the drug test results and accompanying testimony.
Bonds’s 2003 urine sample tested positive for the substances above. The prosecution wants the jury to know that there’s no way these substances could have showed up in his body without him knowing. Bonds told the grand jury that Anderson told him the substances he received from Anderson during the 2003 season were flaxseed oil and arthritic balm. The defense countered these claims by attacking the chain of custody of Bonds’s urine sample from a doping lab in Las Vegas to a lab at UCLA. The MLB tested the sample in Vegas and found nothing. FBI agent Jeff Novitzky then ordered the sample to be retested by a UCLA doping lab during the BALCO investigations and found the aforesaid substances. Despite great efforts, the defense may have failed to break the chain of genuine custody established by the prosecution. As the keystone of the government’s case, the urine sample may be the deciding factor. The trial is ongoing. Updates to follow.
If you were a juror, what would you decide?