Lawyer for trainer: Bonds rejected THG offer

SAN FRANCISCO -- Lawyers for two men accused of participating in a steroid-distribution ring have come to the defense of Barry Bonds, saying the slugger "never took anything illegal."

Bonds was offered, but rejected, a questionable substance that's
at the heart of the government's case, according to attorneys for
Bonds' personal trainer and for the founder of a nutritional
supplements lab implicated in the case.

The defense of Bonds, who has been accused by at least one
fellow major leaguer of taking steroids, came outside court Friday
after two hearings in the case against four men charged with
providing performance-enhancing substances to dozens of
professional athletes.

"Barry Bonds never took anything illegal. He declined to take
any of these illegal substances," said Tony Serra, the attorney
for Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson.

Serra said Bonds "was offered substances via the schedule,"
referring to a calendar seized in a search of Anderson's home that
listed doses and scheduling of substances taken by the athletes he

Serra said Bonds was offered something that prosecutors have
referred to in documents as "a 'clear' steroid-like substance" -- the newly unmasked steroid THG. Serra said Bonds was offered that
substance "by two or three people" through Anderson, but declined
to try it.

Serra would not identify those other people, but said they also
were involved in the case and that the substance had "to emanate
out of the lab, I would think."

Serra was referring to the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative,
whose founder Victor Conte and vice president James Valente are
also charged with Anderson. Track coach Remi Korchemny is the
fourth man indicted. All have pleaded not guilty and are free on

Bonds frequently has denied steroid use and no athlete has been
charged in the case.

Conte's attorney also said that Bonds, one of dozens of athletes
who testified before the grand jury that indicted the four men, had
done nothing wrong.

"My client knows of no illegal activity that has ever been done
by Barry Bonds," said lawyer Robert Holley. "(Conte) would like
us to go on record because of the rumors and innuendoes."

Colorado Rockies reliever Turk Wendell said this week it was
"clear just seeing his body" that Bonds was taking steroids.

Serra said Anderson trained seven pro athletes: Bonds and five
other major leaguers, as well as a pro football player. He would
not divulge their names, or say whether Anderson continues to work
with them.

Serra said Anderson never would have done anything, such as
providing customers with banned drugs, that could have threatened
his career or the reputation of the star athletes he trained.

"My client was always under the impression that what he
provided was 100 percent legal," Serra said.

Prosecutor Jeff Nedrow asked U.S. District Judge Susan Illston
to set a trial for mid-April, a bid that Holley blasted as "just
plain ridiculous" given the 34,000 pages of documents already
generated in the case.

Illston became so disgusted with Nedrow and Holley sniping at
each other about the trial date that she pleaded, "Can we please
not have an argument about that now?"

Illston agreed with defense attorneys that mid-April was too
soon for a trial, and set status conferences for March 19 and 26 to
discuss the course of the case.

Nedrow turned a large white box containing those 34,000 pages of grand jury transcripts and other materials over to Serra, and the
barrel-chested Anderson carried them from the courtroom, standing
patiently for about 20 minutes, holding the box while Serra answered
reporters' questions outside the courtroom.

Anderson, Valente and Korchemny, who was carrying a U.S. track team backpack, all were silent in court, staring stiffly ahead.
Conte greeted Nedrow with a handshake, kidded about his hair with a
courtroom artist and talked incessantly.

As he left the courtroom, Conte told a reporter, "We have not
yet begun to fight."