Bonds to sue to over book's use of grand jury docs

Updated: March 24, 2006, 2:25 PM ET news services

SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds plans to sue the authors and publisher of a book that alleges the San Francisco Giants' slugger used steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.

Bonds denies jealousy claim
In an upcoming episode of ESPN Original Entertainment's show "Bonds on Bonds", Giants outfielder Barry Bonds denies being jealous of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and others, Daily Variety reports.

"Anyone who knows me knows I'm not jealous of anybody," Bonds says, according to Daily Variety, in a scene from the show. "I'm proud of what Mark McGwire did; I'm proud of what Sammy did. They lifted the game."

Bonds also denies that he was in Ken Griffey Jr.'s house at the time another new book, "Love Me, Hate Me: Barry Bonds and the Making of an Antihero," alleges Bonds told Griffey Jr. and others that he was going to take steroids given the attention that McGwire and others who he believed were taking steroids were getting.

Bonds' attorneys sent a letter Thursday to an agent for the authors of "Game of Shadows," alerting them of plans to sue the writers, publisher Gotham Books, the San Francisco Chronicle and Sports Illustrated, which published excerpts this month.

"Our client, Barry Bonds, will seek an ex parte application for a temporary restraining order against them, as well as Gotham Books/Penguin USA, Sports Illustrated Magazine and the San Francisco Chronicle," Alison Berry Wilkinson, an associate of Bonds' lead attorney, Michael Rains, wrote in the letter. "This injunctive action will be brought pursuant to California's Unfair Competition Law ... to obtain, in summary, disgorgement of any profits related to or derived from the publication and distribution of the book."

The letter, signed by Wilkinson, was posted on the Chronicle's Web site. A hearing was tentatively scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday in San Francisco Superior Court.

"The reason we filed in the lawsuit in the simplest terms possible is to prevent the authors from promoting themselves and profiting from illegal conduct," Rains told The Associated Press on Thursday.

He said laws prohibit people from possessing grand jury materials unless they are unsealed and said authors Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, both also reporters for the Chronicle, "have made a complete farce of the criminal justice system."

ESPN's Pedro Gomez reported that the planned lawsuit is not a libel suit.

The book, released Thursday, claims Bonds used steroids, human growth hormone, insulin and other banned substances for at least five seasons beginning in 1998.

"We certainly stand by our reporters and the reporting they did for us," Chronicle executive vice president and editor Phil Bronstein said. "Nothing that's happened will change that."

Bonds' legal team will ask a judge Friday to issue a temporary restraining order forfeiting all profits from publication and distribution, according to the letter. The lawyers plan to file the suit under California's unfair competition law.

The attorneys will ask a federal judge to initiate contempt proceedings "for the use of illegally obtained" grand jury transcripts the authors used in writing the book. Rains said profits should be forfeited because of that.

"What we're saying is, who are the real cheaters? They are the ones who are using these illegally obtained materials," Rains said.

If Bonds moves forward with his lawsuit, the authors will countersue under California's strong anti-SLAPP ("strategic lawsuit against public participation") statute, which prevents parties from using the courts to stifle free speech, The New York Daily News reported.

Williams and Fainaru-Wada said the book will stand up to a court challenge.

"I don't know what the legal action they contemplate is," Williams said. "Gotham can speak to the legal issues, but the facts in our book are true and they will stand up to scrutiny."

"We fully stand behind our reporting of the book," Fainaru-Wada added.

Lisa Johnson, a spokeswoman for publisher Gotham Books, said the publisher supports both authors. "We at Gotham Books are shocked that Barry Bonds would take such a foolish step," she said. "Any respected First Amendment lawyer in America knows that his claim is nonsense."

Rains said Bonds will not comment directly on the lawsuit but strongly supports the case.

"Barry is doing fine," Rains said. "He's had a great spring as everyone knows. His bat speaks for himself and he's not going to speak on this action and this book."

The Giants refused to comment to Gomez. "The Giants have no response. This is Barry Bonds' personal issue."

A key source in the book is a former Bonds lover, Kimberly Bell, who bolsters the steroid case against Bonds and says she received money from the seven-time Most Valuable Player not reported to tax authorities.

"There is an ongoing investigation and I don't want to interrupt that in any way," Bell told Reuters. "Because of the investigation and the potential there at this time I am not making any commentary on the situation or the book."

Legal experts say the book could also prompt the U.S. attorney to investigate whether Bonds lied to a federal grand jury when he testified in the BALCO steroid case. Bell has already testified before a grand jury.

The book also claims sluggers Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield, both now with the New York Yankees, also used performance-enhancing drugs.

Giambi was asked about Bonds' planned suit on Thursday at the Yankees' spring camp in Tampa, Fla.

"This is all news to me. I didn't know any more of this than what you guys know," Giambi said. "I've done what I had to do last year and I've gone forward. I handled it last year, gone forward and I'm worried about winning a World Series now. It was the best thing I needed to do."

The book claims Giambi turned to performance-enhancing drugs because he felt pressured to please his perfectionist father. "I think it's pretty pathetic that they tried to drag my father into it," Giambi said.

Fainaru-Wada told the New York Daily News for a story published Friday that the book does not draw any connections between Giambi's use of performance-enhancing drugs and his relationship with his father.

"The notion that the book said that is not accurate at all," Fainaru-Wada told the newspaper. "It's not even close."

Fainaru-Wada said the book mentions Giambi's father only to give background to the slugger's career.

"His dad was part of telling who he is and why he was driven to succeed," Fainaru-Wada said. "The connection about his father being a reason he used steroids was not at all a part of that."

Sheffield would not comment on the book.

"I don't even talk about it," Sheffield said.

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.