Implication by track star infuriates Bonds
SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds avoided specifics Thursday when asked about the latest doping allegations against him, instead unleashing a flurry of expletives toward sprinter Tim Montgomery.
Montgomery reportedly testified to a grand jury that the man at the center of a Bay Area steroid scandal told him he supplied the San Francisco Giants' slugger with performance-enhancing drugs.
When Tim Montgomery appeared before a
federal grand jury, he probably expected his testimony to
stay secret until the case went to trial.
But on Thursday, the San Francisco Chronicle published details of that testimony without saying how it obtained the information.
Montgomery's lawyers -- and representatives of the other elite athletes and trainers implicated in the steroid probe -- were livid, with several calling for a federal investigation.
It is illegal to give grand jury testimony to the media. Kevin Ryan, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, said his office was "looking into the matter."
Victor Conte's attorney, Robert Holley, said the leak did not come from the defense. "The transcript is devastating to Victor Conte. He would never in a million years have given that out. The adverse publicity gives him much less of a chance at a fair trial."
"I think it's outrageous," said Anna Ling, the attorney for Bonds' trainer, Greg Anderson. "The secrecy of the grand jury system is a foundation of the criminal justice system."
Prosecutors did not return calls from The Associated Press seeking to determine if they would launch an investigation.
The release of the testimony could be cause for concern for some of the dozens of elite athletes who testified.
Marion Jones' attorney, Joseph Burton, called the leak an "extremely serious matter." Jones, however, has asked for her own testimony to be released.
"We know that it will confirm what she has said publicly and has been confirmed by a polygraph examination: She has never, ever used performance-enhancing drugs," Burton said.
Though distributing grand jury transcripts to the media is illegal, it would be very difficult to prove, said Douglas Kmiec, a Pepperdine University School of Law professor.
"The party receiving the information is normally a member of the press and has a journalistic duty not to disclose sources," Kmiec said. "The government then has to find the source of the leak itself and that tends to be very difficult."
Lawyers for Anderson and track coach Remi Korchemny, two of the four men indicted in the BALCO investigation, said the government gave the defendants transcripts of most of the grand jury testimony after the indictments came down in February.
But they said the documents were under protective order and never should have been leaked.
"Isolated parts of the case get presented to the public, which is unfair because that may be a small part of the story," said attorney Alan Dressler, who represents Korchemny. "We don't want to try the case in the press, so it's always troublesome when that is released."
Attorneys for Conte and BALCO vice president James Valente -- the
two other men indicted -- did not return calls for comment.
"I ain't never met Tim Montgomery. I don't know Tim Montgomery. I've never seen the dude in my life," Bonds said before the Giants' game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. "I don't even know what the guy does."
According to a report Thursday in the San Francisco Chronicle, Montgomery testified last year that BALCO founder Victor Conte told him Bonds switched to an undetectable steroid in 2003 when baseball introduced its drug policy.
Asked if he feels betrayed by someone he doesn't know, Bonds said: "Betrayed by someone I've never met before? I didn't get betrayed. ... I don't even know who he is. So how he's making accusations of me I don't even know."
The newspaper's report included direct quotes from Montgomery's testimony to the federal grand jury that investigated the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative. The Chronicle did not say how it obtained the information; it is illegal to give grand jury testimony to the media.
"It's stupid. I didn't read the thing. I just heard about it," Bonds said.
The six-time NL MVP, who turns 40 next month, has repeatedly denied steroid use. He is third on the career home run list with 676, trailing Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).
"It bothers me when people I don't even know are saying stuff about me," said Bonds, who hasn't homered in nine games. "Next time, if I know for sure so-and-so, they're going to talk to my lawyer from now on, I guarantee that. If any of them statements are true, they're going to talk to my attorney, I guarantee that -- in a lawsuit. ... See you in court, brother."
According to the Chronicle, prosecutor Jeff Nedrow asked Montgomery about Conte's dealings with Bonds.
"Did he say he gave any steroids, Winstrol or any of the other ones to Mr. Bonds?" Nedrow asked.
"Yes, he did," Montgomery replied.
"Did he say specifically which ones?"
"Winstrol," Montgomery said.
Winstrol is the same steroid Ben Johnson used before being disqualified in the 1988 Olympics. Montgomery testified that Conte told him Bonds switched to an undetectable steroid in 2003.
"I have reason to have serious doubts about the accuracy of all that," Bonds' attorney, Michael Rains, told the Chronicle. "I doubt very much that Conte would be talking about anything he's giving to anybody."
Conte's attorney, Robert Holley said his client never would have confided in Montgomery. He added that the sprinter split with Conte in 2001 and would have had no way to know what went on with Bonds in 2003.
"Victor Conte has repeatedly said from the very beginning that he has never provided Barry Bonds with steroids, has never seen Barry Bonds take steroids or take any kind of performance-enhancing drugs," Holley said late Thursday evening.
Bonds, who set the single-season home run record of 73 in 2001, hasn't seemed distracted by all the steroid questions. His personal trainer and longtime friend, Greg Anderson, was among four men charged in a drug distribution ring earlier this year.
In April, Bonds homered in seven straight games, one shy of the major league record. His last homer was June 13 at Baltimore.
Giants owner Peter Magowan isn't concerned about the latest report tarnishing the image of the Giants or Bonds, the pillar of the franchise.
"What I have said is I've never seen anybody who can block things out like Barry can," Magowan said, also referring to the death of Bonds' father, Bobby, last year. "As far as the rest of the team is concerned, they're all putting it to the side, which is to their credit. That's difficult to do.
"I've got strong feelings about it [the steroid scandal], but I can't talk about it now. There might come a time when I can."
Giants players have said they will not let Bonds' involvement in the steroid investigation distract them.
"He's our teammate and we support him 100 percent," closer Matt Herges said Thursday. "The ultimate goal is to get to the World Series and win it, and we're not going to let it affect us."
Montgomery, the world's fastest man, testified last year that he used human growth hormone and an undetectable steroid. He was told Wednesday that he faces a lifetime ban from the sport despite his repeated public denials that he has used any performance-enhancing drugs.
His lawyer lashed out at the leak of his secret testimony. Montgomery was among dozens of elite athletes -- including Bonds, Jason Giambi and Montgomery's girlfriend, Olympian Marion Jones -- who answered the grand jury's questions under threat of perjury.
"No one can legally or legitimately have Tim's grand jury testimony, and if they think they have it, I would like to see it," Montgomery's attorney, Cristina Arguedas, told the Chronicle. "Otherwise, there's no way I can respond to these blind allegations, and I'm not going to comment on it."
On Nov. 6, 2003, Montgomery reportedly testified that in 2001 Conte gave him weekly doses of human growth hormone and a substance called "the clear" -- which Montgomery referred to as a "magic potion."
Montgomery said he was told "the clear" was not an illegal steroid, but that he understood that HGH is a banned substance. Montgomery set a world record of 9.78 seconds in the 100 meters in 2002.
"The clear" was later determined to be THG, a previously undetectable steroid at the center of the BALCO scandal, which now threatens to keep some of America's top sprinters out of the Athens Olympics.
In additions to Montgomery, Michelle Collins, Alvin Harrison and Chryste Gaines have been accused by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency of steroid use.
The agency, based in Colorado Springs, told Montgomery that it is seeking to ban him from the sport for life, two sources familiar with the USADA's warning letter told The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of anonymity.
"USADA's leap to judgment on the flimsiest so-called 'evidence' confirms our worst suspicions -- that it is resorting to McCarthy-like tactics in its efforts to ruin Tim's reputation," Howard Jacobs, another Montgomery attorney, said in a statement Wednesday.
USADA does not have access to the grand jury testimony but is using documents obtained in the investigation to implicate athletes without positive drug tests.
Collins, the 2003 world indoor champion at 200 meters and potential medalist in the Athens Games, also was notified USADA would seek to ban her for life, according to her lawyer, Brian Getz, who said he plans to appeal.
Three-time gold medalist Marion Jones, the mother of Montgomery's son, also is under investigation by USADA but has not been accused of any wrongdoing. Montgomery was not asked at the grand jury about whether Jones used illegal steroids, the Chronicle reported.
Montgomery did testify that Conte began giving him banned substances soon after the 2000 Olympics, the newspaper reported.
"How many times did he give you human growth hormone?" Nedrow asked Montgomery at one point.
"He would send four vials a month," Montgomery answered.
Montgomery told Nedrow he had followed the regimen for "maybe eight months." He said he got no benefit from "the clear" and split with Conte in September 2001 over a money dispute. He broke the world record the following year.
Information from The Associated Press and the San Francisco Chronicle was used in this report.