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Bonds lawyer acknowledges public perception

3/27/2007

SAN FRANCISCO -- The question baseball fans need ponder isn't whether Barry Bonds will take down Hank Aaron's all-time home run record this season, but whether a San Francisco grand jury might not first bring charges against the Giants' slugger.

His attorney isn't laying odds on a possible indictment, though he acknowledges the public perception is that Bonds indeed took steroids. Nor is Bonds the only athlete under a suspicious cloud. In fact, Bonds attorney Michael Rains suggests the latest steroid scandal centered on Internet sales and several Florida clinics even might be welcome news for his client.

"I suspect a lot of people think Barry did take steroids and that he is no different than a lot of other athletes who have been and continue to do them today," Rains told ESPN.com. "So when this other stuff happens now it probably just confirms in people's mind their own suspicions that that kind of performance-enhancing drug stuff is fairly rampant and widespread in professional sports."

So far, 20 people have been indicted, and several Florida clinics were raided. Athletes linked to the scandal, in various reports, are baseball's Gary Matthews Jr., Jose Canseco, John Rocker, Jerry Hairston Jr., David Bell and Darren Holmes, former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, Pittsburgh Steelers doctor Richard Rydze, 1996 Olympic wrestling gold medalist Kurt Angle and bodybuilder Victor Martinez.

Rains said Bonds continues to insist he never knowingly took anabolic steroids from his personal trainer Greg Anderson, nor any substance banned or illegal at the time.

"Well, THG wasn't illegal or banned, either one," said Rains, referring to the designer drug at the heart of the BALCO scandal that the Food and Drug Administration in October 2003 ruled couldn't legally be marketed. "So even if he had admitted doing that: one, it wasn't illegal; two, it wasn't banned; and three, based on his [grand jury] testimony it would have not produced any anabolic effects at all. For that stuff to work, you got to take it in cycles. He got that stuff infrequently from Greg [Anderson]. I think he said he got it once or twice on a home stand. Never out of town. That is not going to produce the anabolic effect that that sort of stuff is intended to have.

"When you think about it, he could have gone in the grand jury and said, 'Yeah, Greg gave me this stuff that he called Clear [THG]. I thought it was fine to take, but now I know it wasn't, blah, blah, blah.' What he always said to me was, 'Greg gave me this stuff. He kept calling it flaxseed oil. I didn't have any reason to believe otherwise. The guy is a friend of mine. I trust him.' And Barry is that way.

"Why do you think I am his lawyer? I'm Barry's lawyer because his friend, Danny Molieri who knows me, says, 'Barry, if you get yourself in a criminal jam call Rains, he is a good lawyer.' Barry didn't have to go out and do a Martindale-Hubbell [attorney] search for me. Barry didn't go out and check my credentials. He said, 'OK, Danny, if you say he is good, he is good.' That is Barry."

Mike Fish is an investigative reporter for ESPN.com. He can be reached at michaeljfish@gmail.com.