United States baseball home-run king Barry Bonds used steroids to fuel his success and then lied about it, US prosecutors said on Thursday in charging him with perjury and obstruction of justice.
The indictment, filed in US District Court in San Francisco, stems from the investigation into the San Francisco Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (Balco) whose top figures have already served jail time on steroid distribution charges.
The all-time Major League baseball home run king has long been under federal probe over suspicion that he lied to the Balco grand jury in 2003 when he told them he never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs.
The seven-time Most Valuable Player surged late in his career to break what had long been one of the greatest records in American sports. Although many fans wondered aloud about the source of his power, Bonds (43) has long denied any link to steroids.
Despite his huge success on the field, his abrasive personality and the lingering doubts about steroid use, kept him from gaining widespread personal popularity, especially outside San Francisco.
”During the criminal investigation, evidence was obtained including positive tests for the presence of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing substances for Bonds and other professional athletes,” the indictment said.
Bonds’ main criminal lawyer did not immediately return a telephone call for comment, but a second lawyer said he would plead not guilty to the charges.
Major League Baseball had no immediate comment.
The indictment comes just weeks after Olympic sprinter Marion Jones relinquished the five medals she won at the 2000 Sydney Games and accepted a two-year ban after admitting she used performance-enhancing drugs.
Bonds passed Hank Aaron to become the American home run king this summer, but his San Francisco Giants chose not to negotiate another year on his contract. He was hoping to sign a contract with another team in the coming months.
If convicted on a perjury charge, Bonds could face up to five years in prison.
His personal trainer and boyhood friend Greg Anderson was imprisoned in the case on steroid distribution charges. Anderson was later sent back to prison for declining to cooperate in the Bonds probe.
The indictment quotes Bonds speaking before the grand jury as saying he did not take steroids. – Reuters