SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A federal judge overseeing Barry Bonds' criminal case said her "preliminary thoughts" are to exclude from trial three positive drug tests, though she's inclined to keep a recorded conversation between Bonds' personal trainer and former personal assistant discussing steroid use.
U.S. District Judge Susan Illston said during an evidentiary hearing Thursday that she was leaning toward excluding the results seized by investigators during a BALCO raid unless there is direct testimony tying the urine samples to Bonds. She is not expected to issue her ruling Thursday.
Bonds is charged with lying to a December 2003 grand jury when
he said he never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs. He
pleaded not guilty to the charges earlier Thursday, then stayed for
the hearing, sitting quietly at a table with six lawyers for about
According to court documents, Bonds tested positive on three
separate occasions in 2000 and 2001 for the steroid methenelone in
urine samples; he also tested positive two of those three times for
the steroid nandrolone.
The test results were seized in a 2003 raid on the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, the headquarters of a massive sports doping ring shut down by federal agents. Agents said they seized numerous results of blood and urine tests by Bonds, which prosecutors argue show the slugger was intimately involved with BALCO.
Those three positive tests were some of the strongest evidence
the government had in its effort to prove Bonds knowingly took
Bonds' lawyers argue there is no way to know the test results
belong to Bonds because of shoddy collection, handling and
processing of the urine samples. A similar chain-of-custody
argument was used by O.J. Simpson to help win an acquittal in his
Illston and the lawyers didn't discuss a fourth positive test
seized in 2004 from a lab used by Major League Baseball to test its
players during anonymous survey testing in 2003.
The judge also said she was inclined to let the jury hear a
recorded conversation between Bonds' personal trainer, Greg
Anderson, and former personal assistant Steve Hoskins.
Court documents released Wednesday revealed Hoskins, Bonds'
childhood friend, secretly tape-recorded a 2003 conversation with
Anderson in the Giants' clubhouse because Hoskins wanted to prove
to Bonds' father, Bobby Bonds, that his son was using steroids.
Anderson and Hoskins, who were near Bonds' locker, were
discussing steroid injections, and at one point, they lowered their
voices to avoid being overheard as players, including Benito
Santiago, and others walked by, according to the documents.
Anderson: "No, what happens is, they put too much in one area,
and ... actually ball up and puddle. And what happens is, it
actually will eat away and make an indentation. And it's a cyst. It
makes a big (expletive) cyst. And you have to drain it. Oh yeah,
it's gnarly. ... Hi Benito. ... Oh it's gnarly."
Hoskins: "... Is that why Barry's didn't do it in one spot, and you didn't just let him do it one time?"
Anderson: "Oh no. I never. I never just go there. I move it all over the place."
Also during that conversation, Anderson told Hoskins that "everything that I've been doing at this point, it's all undetectable," according to the documents.
"See, the stuff that I have ... we created it," he was quoted
as saying. "And you can't, you can't buy it anywhere. You can't
get it anywhere else."
He added that he was unconcerned about Bonds testing positive
because Marion Jones and other athletes using the same drugs had
not been caught doping.
"So that's why I know it works. So that's why I'm not even trippin'. So that's cool," Anderson said, according to the transcript.
Anderson's attorney Mark Geragos said his client will refuse to
testify at trial, so the transcripts would be the prosecution's
chance to introduce his voice into their arguments.
But Bonds' attorneys argue his right to confront witnesses would
be violated if his attorneys can't question Anderson about the
recording. The trial is scheduled to begin March 2, and lawyers
estimate it will last about a month.
Associated Press Writer Jason Dearen in San Francisco
contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)