Bonds goes on trial Monday for 2003 testimony


Bonds goes on trial Monday for 2003 testimony

March 19, 2011

(AP) -- When Barry Bonds walked into the federal courthouse in San Francisco on Dec. 4, 2003, his career total stood at 658 home runs, baseball had yet to institute drug testing with penalties and the Giants were nearly a half-century removed from their last World Series title.Much has changed since the brawny, contentious slugger spent 2 hours, 53 minutes answering questions from a pair of assistant U.S. attorneys and grand jurors examining drug use in sports.Baseball's Steroids Era receded somewhat as players and owners started mandatory testing and then toughened the rules three times. Bonds won his seventh MVP award in 2004 and broke Hank Aaron's career home run record in 2007.And then on Nov. 15, 2007, exactly 50 days since he took his final big league swing and 100 after topping Aaron, Bonds was indicted on charges he lied to the grand jury when he denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs. Even though he wanted to continue playing, all 30 major league teams shunned him. And without Bonds, the Giants last year won their first title since 1954.Starting Monday, a jury will be selected in the very same court house where Bonds testified all those years ago to determine whether he broke the law with four short answers totaling nine words: "Not that I know of," "No, no," "No," and "Right."Each of the charges - four counts of making false statements to the grand jury and one count of obstruction - carry a possible sentence of up to 10 years, although federal guidelines make a total of 15 to 21 months more probable if Bonds is convicted.Prosecutors claim he lied to protect the legacy of a career in which he hit home runs at an unprecedented pace, especially for someone his age. Bonds was 43 when he his 762nd, and last, home run.His apparent defense?He was truthful when told the grand jury he didn't know the substances he used were steroids, so even if they were performance-enhancing drugs, that isn't relevant to the charges against Bonds."If you look at the cases of athletes internationally over the years, the defenses of those athletes has been, 'I didn't know,'" said Dr. Gary Wadler, former chairman of the committee that determines the banned substances list for the World Anti-Doping Agency. "They clearly know. The question is: In a hearing, can you prove it? But they know. Of course, they know."Even if that is the case here, prosecutors may trouble convincing jurors.Much of the government's case has been gutted by the refusal of Greg Anderson to testify. Bonds' personal trainer and childhood friend was sentenced in 2005 to three months in prison and three months home confinement after pleading guilty to steroid distribution and money laundering for his role in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) case. He is likely to be jailed again next week because he is refusing to testify at Bonds' trial.Without Anderson to authenticate key evidence, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston ordered that prosecutors couldn't present three positive drug tests seized from BALCO and so-called doping calendars maintained by the trainer at the trial. Prosecutors tried and failed to get her decision overturned. The appeal delayed the trial by two years, but the government lost in a 2-1 vote by a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.Prosecutors allege Bonds lied to the grand jury when he said he didn't take steroids Anderson gave him, never received human growth hormone from Anderson, never took anything Anderson asked him to take before the 2003 season other than vitamins, and never allowed anyone to inject him other than physicians.Bonds testified to the grand jury he was told by Anderson he was taking "flax seed oil," which the government alleges was a then-undetectable steroid later determined to be Tetrahydrogestrinone (THG), developed by Patrick Arnold for BALCO and known as "the clear." Bonds also testified he used a lotion that Anderson told him was a balm for pain relief, which the government claims was a testosterone-based substance known as "the cream."With Anderson refusing to testify, prosecutors intend to use the testimony of other athletes, including former AL MVP Jason Giambi, plus the a tape recording of Anderson speaking with then-Bonds assistant Steve Hoskins, to help prove their assertion that Bonds knew what he was taking.A urine test Bonds took on June 4, 2003, for baseball, which later was found to be positive for THG, also will be introduced along with a July 7, 2006, urine test for baseball that was positive for an amphetamine. And Bonds' former mistress, Kimberly Bell, will be asked to testify about changes to Bonds' body and demeanor the government asserts were caused by steroids.With the well-established group of BALCO prosecutors led by Matthew A. Parrella and Jeffrey D. Nedrow battling against Bonds' high-priced legal team of half-a-dozen-plus attorneys, the case could come down to how much doubt Bonds' side raises about the government's evidence. The standard for criminal conviction is "beyond a reasonable doubt," not "without any doubt."Thus far, the highest-profile athlete sent to prison in the BALCO investigation has been track star Marion Jones, sentenced to six months in prison after pleading guilty to lying to federal investigators when she denied using performance-enhancing drugs and to a second count of lying about her association with a check-fraud scheme.Led by Jeff Novitzky, the tall and imposing lead investigator, the government has been criticized by some for spending millions of dollars on the investigation of Bonds and the separate probe of cyclist Lance Armstrong, who has not been charged. And Novitzky and prosecutors were rebuffed by the 9th Circuit, which ruled they illegally seized the tests results of about 100 baseball players not involved in the BALCO case.Yet former baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent sees value in the prosecution."The legal system has to count on people telling the truth and therefore the government will take seriously charges of lying to federal organizations," he said. "It's important for the federal system."Illston has urged the sides to try to reach an agreement without a trial, but that recommendation seems to have gone nowhere. And Bonds is only the first Steroids Era baseball star to face a jury. Starting July 6, seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens goes on trial in Washington on three counts of making false statements, two counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of Congress.How Bonds and Clemens are viewed on the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot - and beyond - will be determined by these verdicts. Bonds' season record of 73 home runs and his career mark have been dismissed by some, perhaps many. Now 46, Bonds' statements, accomplishments, physique and reputation will be under scrutiny like never before."Obviously some of the romance and mythology of all sports has been diminished," broadcaster Bob Costas said. "That's just a consequence of the modern age. But I think that it's mostly because of the direct linkage to steroids."

Graveman delivers in front of 'Blue Moon' Odom, rest of A's can't

Graveman delivers in front of 'Blue Moon' Odom, rest of A's can't

ANAHEIM — The A’s collection of individual highlights during their visit to Angel Stadium shouldn’t have equated to a three-game sweep for their opponent.

Jesse Hahn fired eight one-hit innings Tuesday, the same night Josh Phegley delivered a pinch-hit homer in the 10th before the A’s lost in 11 innings. On Thursday, Kendall Graveman turned in perhaps the defensive play of the 2017 season by a pitcher, recording an unassisted double play that was the first by an A’s pitcher in 46 years.

All great moments to relive in the clubhouse afterward, but surely they ring a bit hollow given the final outcomes. The A’s were swept by an Angels team that, like Oakland, has been hit hard by the injury bug. Los Angeles is without key relievers Huston Street, Andrew Bailey, Cam Bedrosian and Mike Morin, not to mention starter Garrett Richards among others.

Yet the Angels pitching staff twice held the A’s to one run over the three-game series, including Thursday’s 2-1 defeat, when the A’s mustered just three hits.

“We’re a little streaky right now,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “… Give them credit, they pitched really well, and they really are down a lot of guys in the bullpen. We would expect to do a little more damage.”

They couldn’t Thursday, and that it made it tough to savor Graveman’s incredible play the way they should have.

With runners on the corners and no outs, he fielded Juan Graterol’s comebacker and caught Ben Revere in a rundown between third and home. Graveman ran him down and after applying the tag, hurdled Revere and made the tag on Cliff Pennington, who was trying to advance from first to third in the chaos.

“That’s probably the best play I’ve ever seen a pitcher make, hurdling over an (opponent) to get the second out unassisted,” Melvin said. “I didn’t even know how to put that one down on my card.”

Graveman, one of the A’s better overall athletes, was asked if he’d ever recorded an unassisted double play before.

“Never. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen one,” he said. “(Ryan) Madson said he’s never seen one and he’s watched over 2,000 games.”

Incredibly, the last A’s pitcher to pull off an unassisted double play previously was in attendance Thursday night. John “Blue Moon” Odom did it back on July 11, 1971, also against the Angels. Odom attends most of the A’s games in Anaheim, and he’s struck up a friendship with Graveman over the years.

“Every time we come here and even in spring training, I try to catch up with Blue Moon Odom and see how he’s doing,” Graveman said. “He and Wash (former A’s infield coach Ron Washington) are friends so we always cut up about Wash. He’s a great guy. He sits in the front row. He came in and saw me right before stretch and told me ‘I’m gonna be front row watching you.’ That is pretty neat that that happened.”

A’s first baseman Yonder Alonso said he’s never surprised to see Graveman make a great defensive play.

“The guy’s a pitcher, but it feels like he’s a shortstop playing the position.”

Graveman was visited by trainers after the fifth-inning play, but Melvin said it was mainly to give the pitcher a breather and let him get his adrenaline under control. Neither Graveman nor his manager revealed anything specific that bothered Graveman. Seeing him stay in the game and complete six innings of two-run ball had to be encouraging for Melvin.

“The first thing I asked him was ‘What’d you fall on?’” Melvin said. “He said, ‘My butt.’ I said, ‘Well, you’re all right then.’ But you’re not gonna see that play again probably.”

The A’s are giving their manager and fans some accomplishments to marvel over. As they move on to Houston trying to halt a four-game losing streak, they just need to figure things out on the scoreboard.

Raiders' first-round pick Conley opens up on emotions after off-field issues

Raiders' first-round pick Conley opens up on emotions after off-field issues

ALAMEDA – Gareon Conley’s name has been sullied, at least temporarily. He feared it would be long enough to send him free falling down the NFL Draft.

The Ohio State cornerback and top-15 prospect was accused of rape stemming from an April 9 incident in Cleveland, an allegation he called “completely false.”

The Raiders clearly believe him. That’s why they drafted him No. 24 overall on Thursday evening, and expect him to be a long-term solution in their secondary.

Conley wasn’t sure how far he’d fall after being beaten down by one rough week, when the allegation went public. Reggie McKenzie’s first-round selection and subsequent call was more emotional than expected.

“It made it 10 times more special,” Conley said Thursday night in a conference call. “Just having that doubt in my mind, just not knowing (how far I would fall). Just having faith and having doubt, I didn’t know what was going to happen. When it came, it shocked me. It felt unreal, honestly. It still feels unreal.”

Being a top pick was expected after an excellent career at Ohio State. The rape accusation threatened to destroy his draft-day dreams. Conley has not been arrested or charged in relation to the incident, though an investigation is ongoing.

Conley said he volunteered to take a polygraph test that was shared with NFL teams, and reportedly passed the one he took. He said in a statement there are witnesses and video evidence proving he didn’t do anything illegal.

Conley spent the last few days trying to proclaim his innocence. 

He is scheduled to meet with Cleveland police on Monday to discuss the April 9 incident -- he'll also submit a DNA sample, according to ESPN -- where group sex was suggested and a woman claimed she was sexually assaulted.

Conley believes his name will be cleared in time.

“I’m very confident it will be resolved," Conley said. "I took a test today that helps. Then when I made my statement and all the evidence that I have, I feel confident it’ll be resolved.”

Conley admits he shouldn’t have put himself in a compromising position, which occurred at a Cleveland hotel earlier this month.

“I could’ve made way better judgment,” Conley said. “I mean, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but I definitely could’ve made a better decision.”

Conley hopes to move beyond it quickly and start focusing on football. He is scheduled to fly west for a press conference on Friday.

Conley is thankful to the Raiders for believing in him despite his recent troubles.

“It’s off the charts, honestly,” Conley said. “Just to know that they have faith in me, not even just as a football player but as a person like that, it speaks highly of them, and I really appreciate it. It’s an honor to be a part of the Raider organization.”