SAN FRANCISCO – Government witnesses that have taken the stand to testify in the trial against baseball’s all-time home run king Barry Bonds include a former best friend and business partner, an ex-girlfriend and an expert on steroids.
The trial started its second week on Monday.
Bonds is standing trial for what government lawyers have called perjured testimony from a 2003 grand jury inquiry into the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Op (BALCO) that resulted in its founder, Victor Conte, going to prison.
During the grand jury inquiry, Bonds denied knowingly using steroids and has steadfastly clung to that story. Government attorneys say Bonds lied and feel they have lined up witnesses to refute his denials.
The trial started on March 21 at the United States Federal Court in San Francisco.
On Monday, Kimberly Bell, who had a relationship with Bonds that lasted from 1993 through 2004, testified that she personally witnessed his trainer, Greg Anderson, inject him with steroids.
Bonds has long claimed his trainers never injected him with anything that he knowingly knew to be steroids. Confronted with charges that he knowingly used “the cream” and “the clear,” which are steroids-based substances, Bonds has continued to deny that he knew they were steroids.
The counter from Bonds is that he was told the liquid that had rubbed on his body was “flaxseed oil,” a substance which is legal.
Jury members have, so far, heard testimony that steroids can increase head, hat and glove sizes, said Larry Bowers, a chief science director with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, who testified for the government last week.
Under cross examination by Bonds’ attorney, Allen Ruby, Bowers told the jury that only limited knowledge exists about steroids.
Former Bonds friend and business partner Steve Hoskins also concluded his testimony last week, telling jurors about conversations with the home run king, detailing the fact he used steroids.
Bonds’ attorneys, meanwhile, claim Hoskins was just trying to get revenge against their client because he was fired. Hoskins also admitted, under oath, that there were some inconsistencies in some of his accounts.
On Monday, Bell took the stand, testifying that he told her that he admitted steroid usage as early as 1999 – two years before he broke Mark McGwire’s single-season home run record with 73 dingers of his own.
Bell denied defense attorneys’ claims that she tried to profit from her liaison with Bonds by posing for nude pictures in Playboy and from a possible book sale.
Anderson is a key witness that government attorneys say has firsthand knowledge about Bonds’ involvement with steroids, but has refused to take the witness stand. Anderson is Bonds’ former trainer and a friend from their youth days.
Anderson, like Conte, was convicted of distributing steroids, spending 18 months in prison. His refusal to testify in previous government hearings has landed him in jail on three additional occasions. Federal Judge Susan Illston sent Anderson to jail last week for once again refusing to testify; his time in jail would end if he decides to testify or once the trial concludes.
Since Bonds’ 2003 grand jury testimony, the atmosphere surrounding performance-enhancing drugs in baseball has changed dramatically.
Two San Francisco newspaper reporters, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, authored a book, “Game of Shadows,” which detailed the BALCO investigation that links Bonds to using performance enhancing drugs.
Two of baseball’s greatest stars, including onetime single season home run record holder McGwire and the possible future home run king, Alex Rodriguez, have admitted to using PEDs.
The Mitchell Report, an investigation launched into Major League Baseball by former Sen. George Mitchell, was released with over 100 names of mostly former players who were found to have used PEDs.
Also, two books written by former slugging outfielder Jose Canseco have linked other former major leaguers to PEDs. Canseco himself has admitted that he spent virtually his entire career both studying and using PEDs.
Later this year, the government is expected to put former pitching great Roger Clemens on trial for perjury after he denied under oath before Congress that he ever used PEDs. His friend and former New Yankees’ and Houston Astros’ teammate Andy Pettitte, who admittedly used PEDs, also implicated Clemens.
Bonds’ career ended following the 2007 season, leaving him with a Major League record 762 home runs.