<
>

Bonds appears before grand jury

SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds became the highest-profile
athlete to appear before a grand jury focusing on possible tax and
drug violations by a California lab that supplied nutritional
supplements to Bonds and other sports stars.

The six-time National League MVP entered the grand jury room
late Thursday morning accompanied by attorney Mike Rains and left
the room nearly 5½ hours later, though it was unclear how long he
testified.

"It went fine," Bonds said as he was led by two bodyguards and
two federal marshals to a freight elevator that was held for him.
He was taken directly to the garage of the federal courthouse, then
driven away as a marshal stopped traffic.

Bonds' wife and mother sat in a nearby hallway during most of
his appearance. At one point, Bonds stuck his head into the hallway
and asked, "Is my mother here?"

Benito Santiago, a free agent who spent the past three seasons
as Bonds' teammate with the San Francisco Giants, appeared before
the grand jury later in the afternoon.

Bonds has attributed his muscular development over the years to
intense weight training, proper diet and a regimen of nutritional
supplements from companies such as the Bay Area Laboratory
Co-Operative, or BALCO, that is at the heart of the grand jury
probe.

Bonds repeatedly has denied using steroids.

Thursday's appearance gave grand jurors the chance to ask the
Giants slugger under oath whether his growth has been entirely
natural.

Other athletes that already have appeared before the grand jury
include track star Marion Jones and her boyfriend, 100-meter world
record-holder Tim Montgomery, four Oakland Raiders and Olympic
champion swimmer Amy Van Dyken.

An appearance before the grand jury, or being subpoenaed to
testify, does not mean an athlete is a target of the probe.

Two people have been named so far as targets of the grand jury --
BALCO founder Victor Conte, and Greg Anderson, Bonds' personal
trainer.

Bonds, 39, became a BALCO client just before his record-setting
2001 season, in which he hit 73 homers, and has praised Conte for
giving him a personalized nutritional program.

Anderson's home was raided by the Internal Revenue Service and a
drug task force Sept. 5, two days after a similar raid at BALCO.

Anderson's attorney, Bill Rapoport, said computer files and
other things "that were not paper" were among items taken in the
raid. But Rapoport said he does not know specifically what was
taken and said Anderson's only connection to BALCO was when he
purchased vitamins from Conte to give to athletes he trained.

Bonds posed with Conte and Anderson for this past June's issue
of Muscle & Fitness magazine and heaped praise on both.

"I visit BALCO every three to six months. They check my blood
to make sure my levels are where they should be. Maybe I need to
eat more broccoli than I normally do. Maybe my zinc and magnesium
intakes need to increase," Bonds told the magazine.

"Victor will call me to make sure I'm taking my supplements,
and my trainer Greg will sit near my locker and stare at me if I
don't begin working out right away. I have these guys pushing me."

Bonds brought Anderson, a childhood friend, on a major league
tour of Japan after the 2002 season, when the trainer met players
such as Jason Giambi -- who also has been subpoenaed to testify
before the grand jury.