SAN FRANCISCO -- Two San Francisco Chronicle reporters who wrote a book about Barry Bonds' alleged steroid use were subpoenaed Friday to testify before a federal grand jury regarding court documents they used in their articles, the newspaper reported.
The subpoenas of the authors of "Game of Shadows," Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, called for them to turn over their copies of grand jury transcripts from the 2003 investigation of a steroid distribution ring based at the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative, or BALCO, according to the Chronicle. They also were asked to provide the identity of the person or persons who leaked the secret documents to them.
Fainaru-Wada and Williams used the transcripts in their detailed reporting of the BALCO case that linked well-known athletes to the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Chronicle executive editor Phil Bronstein insisted the reporters are protected under the First Amendment.
"The San Francisco Chronicle unconditionally stands by its
reporters in fighting this effort by the government to force them
to reveal their confidential sources," Bronstein said. "Reporters
are not subject to the rules governing grand jury secrecy, which
apply only to some of the people in the room during those
Eve Burton, vice president and general counsel for Hearst Corp.,
which owns the newspaper, said, "The Chronicle and its reporters
intend to fight the subpoenas vigorously."
The U.S. Attorney's Office could not immediately be reached for
Because grand jury testimony is taken in secret, it is illegal
to leak such transcripts, although it is not illegal to possess
According to excerpts of the testimony previously reported by
the Chronicle, Bonds testified that he used a clear substance and a
cream given to him by a trainer convicted in the case, but said he
didn't know they were steroids.
The seven-time NL MVP, two home runs from tying Babe Ruth for
second place on the all-time list at 714, has always denied
knowingly taking performance-enhancing drugs.
Bonds testified that Greg Anderson, his personal trainer, told
him the substances were the nutritional supplement flaxseed oil and
an arthritis balm.
The substances Bonds described were similar to ones known as
"the clear" and "the cream," two steroids at the center of the
BALCO scandal. Anderson and three others, including BALCO founder
Victor Conte, have pleaded guilty to distribution charges.
Another grand jury now is looking into whether Bonds committed
perjury when he testified in the BALCO case.
Fainaru-Wada and Williams released their book last month, saying
Bonds began his extensive doping regimen following the 1998 season
after seeing the attention Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa generated in
their race for the single-season homers record. Bonds later broke
that record with 73 homers in 2001.
The book prompted baseball commissioner Bud Selig to launch an
investigation into steroids use in baseball.
Fainaru-Wada and Williams issued a statement Friday saying their
articles "would not have been possible without the help of many
people -- people who are whistleblowers in the truest and best sense
of the term."
"The government's actions raise significant First Amendment
issues, and we are concerned at any attempt to stifle the public's
right to know," they added.