SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds, baseball's home run king, was
indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice Thursday and could
go to prison instead of the Hall of Fame for telling a federal
grand jury he did not knowingly use performance-enhancing drugs.
The indictment, culminating a four-year investigation into
steroid use by elite athletes, charged Bonds with four counts of
perjury and one of obstruction of justice. If convicted, he could
be sentenced to a maximum of 30 years in prison.
Shortly after the indictment was handed up, Bonds' personal
trainer, Greg Anderson, was ordered released after spending most of
the past year in prison for refusing to testify against his
The 10-page indictment mainly consists of excerpts from Bonds'
December 2003 testimony before a federal grand jury investigating
the Bay Area supplements lab at the center of a steroid
distribution ring. It cites 19 occasions in which Bonds allegedly
lied under oath.
An attorney familiar with the investigation told ESPN's T.J. Quinn that the government obtained the results of positive steroids tests for Bonds during a search of BALCO facilities. The source said the positive results did not come from confidential testing conducted by Major League Baseball and the players' association. In approximately 2001, MLB conducted tests to gauge the level of substance problems among players. The government subpoenaed those records.
In August, when the 43-year-old Bonds passed Hank Aaron to
become the career home run leader, he flatly rejected any
suggestion that the milestone was stained by steroids.
"This record is not tainted at all. At all. Period," Bonds
Under "Federal Rules of Criminal Procedures," Bonds does not have to surrender for fingerprinting, mug shots and a bond hearing until his initial arraignment in U.S. District Court in San
Francisco. His arraignment is scheduled for the morning of Dec. 7.
At that point, Bonds will appear before a magistrate judge and then likely be handed over to U.S. Marshals, who will conduct the booking procedures.
But while San Franciscans cheered his every swing and fans
elsewhere scorned every homer, a grand jury quietly worked behind
closed doors to put the finishing touches on the long-rumored
Bonds still will be eligible for the Hall of Fame even if he's convicted and goes to prison, said Jack O'Connell, secretary-treasurer of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Hall of Fame voters, however, punished Mark McGwire last year when he appeared on the ballot for the first time; McGwire received 128 votes, far short of the necessary 409 needed for induction.
Bonds is by far the highest-profile figure caught up in the
steroids probe, which also ensnared track star Marion Jones. She
pleaded guilty in October to lying to federal investigators about
using steroids and faces up to six months in prison.
Bonds finished the year with 762 homers, seven more than Aaron,
and is currently a free agent. In 2001, he set the season record
with 73 home runs.
Late in the season, the San Francisco Giants told the seven-time
National League MVP they didn't want him back next year.
One of his
attorneys, John Burris, didn't know of the indictment before being
alerted by The Associated Press and said he would call Bonds to
"I'm surprised," Burris said, "but there's been an effort to
get Barry for a long time. I'm curious what evidence they have now
they didn't have before."
Defense attorney Mike Rains said he spoke briefly with Bonds but
did not describe his reaction. At an evening news conference, he
read a statement accusing federal prosecutors of "unethical
misconduct" and declined to take questions.
"Every American should worry about a Justice Department that
doesn't know if waterboarding is torture and can't tell the
difference between prosecution on the one hand and persecution on
the other," Rains said.
He has never been identified by Major League Baseball as testing
positive for steroids.
The Giants, the players' union and even the White House called
it a sad day for baseball.
"This is a very sad day. For many years, Barry Bonds was an
important member of our team and is one of the most talented
baseball players of his era. These are serious charges. Now that
the judicial process has begun, we look forward to this matter
being resolved in a court of law," the Giants said.
Union head Donald Fehr said he was "saddened" to learn of the
indictment, but cautioned that "every defendant, including Barry
Bonds, is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless and until
such time as he is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."
In Washington, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said: "The
president is very disappointed to hear this. As this case is now in
the criminal justice system, we will refrain from any further
specific comments about it. But clearly this is a sad day for
Commissioner Bud Selig withheld judgment, saying, "I take this
indictment very seriously and will follow its progress closely."
Bush, who once owned the Texas Rangers, called Bonds to
congratulate him in August when the Giants' outfielder broke the
home run mark. "You've always been a great hitter and you broke a
great record," Bush said at the time.
Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, who is
investigating drug use in baseball, declined comment.
The Hall of Fame currently has an exhibit dedicated to Bonds'
record-breaking 756th home run.
"As a historic museum, we have no intention of taking the
exhibit down," Hall vice president Jeff Idelson said.
Bonds joins a parade of defendants tied to the BALCO
investigation, including Anderson, who served three months in
prison and three months of home detention after pleading guilty to
steroid distribution and money laundering.
BALCO founder Victor Conte also served three months in prison
after he pleaded guilty to steroids distribution. But Conte has
long insisted that Bonds didn't get steroids from his lab.
Conte, in an interview with ESPN's Steve Levy, said Thursday night he "doesn't expect to testify" on behalf of Barry Bonds. Earlier Thursday, Conte told ESPN the Magazine's Shaun Assael that he "may" testify on Bonds' behalf that the sample the government claims Bonds tested positive for steroids on, is not what it seems.
Bonds was charged in the indictment with lying when he said he
didn't knowingly take steroids given to him by Anderson. Bonds is
also charged with lying that Anderson never injected him with
"Greg wouldn't do that," Bonds testified when asked if
Anderson ever gave him any drugs that needed to be injected. "He
knows I'm against that stuff."
Anderson's attorney, Mark Geragos, said the trainer didn't
cooperate with the grand jury that indicted Bonds.
"This indictment came out of left field," Geragos said.
"Frankly I'm aghast. It looks like the government misled me and
Greg as well, saying this case couldn't go forward without him."
Prosecutors promised Bonds they wouldn't charge him with any
drug-related counts if he testified truthfully. But according to
the indictment, Bonds repeatedly denied taking any steroids or
performance-enhancing drugs despite evidence to the contrary.
According to the indictment, Bonds even denied taking steroids
when prosecutors showed him the results of a test from November
2000 that showed a "Barry B" testing positive for two types of
"I've never seen these documents," Bonds said. "I've never
seen these papers."
The indictment does not explain where prosecutors obtained those
results, but they likely were conducted at BALCO. Bonds first visited BALCO in November 2000
and submitted to the series of urine and drug tests conducted by
BALCO founder Victor Conte on every athlete who went through the
The test results may have been seized when federal agents raided
BALCO in September 2003.
Conte said Thursday the tests were administered to protect
athletes from taking legal supplements contaminated with illegal
steroids. But he said he had no way of knowing Bonds' test results
because the samples were assigned numbers rather than names.
"The reason for the testing wasn't to circumvent the system,"
Conte said. "It was to protect the athletes."
Bonds said that at the end of the 2003 season Anderson rubbed
some cream on his arm that the trainer said would help him recover.
Anderson also gave him something he called "flax seed oil," Bonds
Bonds then testified that prior to the 2003 season, he never
took anything supplied by Anderson -- which the indictment alleges
was a lie because the doping calendars seized from Anderson's house
were dated 2001.
Bonds has long been shadowed by allegations that he used
performance-enhancing drugs. The son of former big league star
Bobby Bonds, Barry broke into the majors with the Pittsburgh
Pirates in 1986 as a lithe, base-stealing outfielder.
By the late 1990s, he had bulked up to more than 240 pounds --
his head, in particular, becoming noticeably bigger. His physical
growth was accompanied by a remarkable power surge.
Speculation of his impending indictment had mounted for more
than a year, but the specter of steroid allegations have shadowed
him for much longer.
Information from The Associated Press, ESPN's T.J. Quinn and Steve Levy and ESPN The Magazine's Shaun Assael was used in this report.