Report: Feds investigating if Bonds committed perjury

Updated: April 14, 2006, 3:16 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Baseball isn't the only organization investigating Barry Bonds.

CNN reported Thursday that the federal government is investigating whether Bonds committed perjury during his grand jury testimony in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative case in 2003.

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A person with knowledge of the probe confirmed the report to The Associated Press on Thursday night. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of the investigation.

Multiple sources told CNN that a federal grand jury has been hearing evidence for more than a month about whether Bonds perjured himself during his Dec. 4, 2003, testimony. CNN reporter Ted Rowlands told ESPN Radio on Thursday night that it took a month for the network to get corroborating sources for the story.

The U.S. attorney's office in San Francisco would neither confirm nor deny that a grand jury is sitting.

Harry Stern, an attorney in the firm representing Bonds, told The Associated Press that "we don't have any knowledge about" a grand jury investigation. He also said he stands by previous statements that his client did not perjure himself during his 2003 testimony.

Bonds was mobbed by reporters after the second game of the Giants' doubleheader with the Astros. When asked to respond, Bonds said "no comment."

When asked what he would tell his fans, Bonds responded, "Tell them I love them."

Messages and e-mails left by ESPN for Bonds' attorney, Michael Rains, have not yet been returned.

The Giants declined to comment on the CNN report to ESPN's Colleen Dominguez on Thursday night. Baseball spokesman Rich Levin said he is aware of the reports, "but it's just not appropriate for us to comment at this time."

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Thursday night that Bonds' personal surgeon, Dr. Arthur Ting, has been subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury later this month. Investigators are reportedly interested in Ting, who treated the knee injury that sidelined Bonds for much of the 2005 season, because he visited BALCO with Bonds.

The Chronicle's sources told the newspaper that federal investigators believed Bonds was lying because documents seized in government raids included documentation of the slugger's drug use.

A number of professional athletes were given immunity from prosecution in exchange for their truthful testimony. They were also told that they would be prosecuted if it was later discovered they had lied.

Bonds, who testified before a San Francisco federal grand jury looking into steroid use by top athletes, has repeatedly denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs.

Two books being released this spring accuse Bonds of using steroids, human growth hormone and insulin for at least five seasons beginning in 1998 -- "Game of Shadows," written by two San Francisco Chronicle reporters, and "Love Me, Hate Me: Barry Bonds and the Making of an Antihero" by Jeff Pearlman. Baseball did not test for performance-enhancing substances until after the 2002 season.

BALCO founder Victor Conte insisted in March that he never gave performance-enhancing drugs to Bonds and that "Game of Shadows" is "full of outright lies."

Asked in March, hours after his release friom prison, whether he gave Bonds performance-enhancing drugs, Conte told the AP: "No, I did not." Conte spent four months in prison after pleading guilty to orchestrating an illegal steroids distribution scheme that allegedly involved many high-profile athletes, including Bonds.

"Game of Shadows" chronicles the founding of BALCO and details alleged extensive steroid use by Bonds and other baseball stars. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig announced in March that former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell will lead an investigation into the claims.

"I plan to provide evidence in the near future to prove that much of what is written in the book is untrue," Conte told the AP. He declined to list specific inaccuracies or what evidence he would provide but said the book is "about the character assassination of Barry Bonds and myself."

"It's my opinion that the two writers of the book have a disease called fabrication-itis," Conte said, holding a copy of "Game of Shadows" as he stood on his front steps.

Conte founded and managed the Burlingame-based BALCO, where the steroids were sold. He pleaded guilty to money laundering and a steroid distribution charge, and dozens of other charges were dropped as part of his plea deal.

Conte was sentenced in October to four months in prison and four months' home confinement in a plea deal with federal prosecutors.

Baseball investigators could seek to interview Conte about steroid use in the game.

Bonds, who has denied using steroids, was the most prominent athlete linked to BALCO. He testified in December 2003 to the federal grand jury investigating the case but has not been charged with a crime.

Bonds is third on baseball's all-time home runs list with 708; he is seven homers shy of passing Babe Ruth. He did not play in the second game of Thursday's doubleheader with the Houston Astros in San Francisco.

Other baseball players linked to BALCO include New York Yankees stars Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield.

Olympic track and field stars Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery and former NFL player Bill Romanowski were also called to testify in front of the grand jury. No athletes were charged in the scheme.

Greg Anderson, Bonds' personal trainer, was sentenced to three months behind bars and an additional three months of home confinement after pleading guilty to money laundering and a steroid distribution charge.

BALCO vice president James Valente was sentenced to three years' probation, and track coach Remi Korchemny received a year of probation.

Meanwhile, baseball star Rafael Palmeiro will not be prosecuted on perjury charges after lawmakers said there isn't enough evidence to prove he lied when he told Congress under oath that he had "never used steroids" -- six weeks before failing a steroid test.

The investigation did not conclude whether the former Baltimore Orioles slugger had actually ever used performance-enhancing substances prior to his testimony before the House Government Reform Committee.

"We couldn't find any evidence of steroid use prior to his testimony," Chairman Tom Davis, R-Va., said in releasing a 44-page report. "That's not a finding of innocence, but it's a finding that we could not substantiate perjury."

At issue was Palmeiro's statement at a March 17 hearing: "I have never used steroids. Period." On May 4, he failed a Major League Baseball drug test, coming up positive for an anabolic steroid. In August, shortly after baseball suspended Palmeiro for 10 days, Davis said Congress would look into whether the player committed perjury.

"We have a responsibility, an obligation, to investigate it, and that's what we've done," Davis said during a news conference in the same hearing room where Palmeiro had testified.

Davis said the steroid for which Palmeiro tested positive is detectable for three to four weeks, shorter than the gap between his failed test and Capitol Hill appearance, and therefore "could not have been in his system the day he testified."

"We were not concerned with why he tested positive or how he tested positive except for how that related to his testimony," Davis added.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.