Thursday 22 February 2018

Baseball star Barry Bonds goes on trial in performing-enhancing drugs case

Alex Spillius

Barry Bonds, who holds the record for hitting the highest number of home runs in baseball history, went on trial on Monday charged with perjury and obstruction of justice for allegedly lying during an investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

It is the most high profile case resulting from a long-running drugs in sport scandal that has embroiled US Olympic athletes, coaches and a chemist.

The charges arise from testimony given by Mr Bonds, 46, that he had never knowingly taken steroids or a human growth hormone.

In 2003, Mr Bonds had been ordered to testify before a grand jury investigating a doping ring centred on the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative in Burlingame, California, after investigators found documents and other evidence connecting him to the lab.

Mr Bonds denied under oath that he had been supplied performance enhancing drugs. Prosecutors plan to introduce evidence that he had in fact been taking drugs said to increase muscle mass and speed recovery from injuries.

The first day of the trial, which is expected to last two to four weeks, was taken up with jury selection.

More than 100 prospective jurors filled out lengthy questionnaires asking them their opinion of Mr Bonds, how many baseball games they have attended and dozens of other questions designed to root out bias among jurors.

Forty jurors were quickly dismissed, with one confessing he was a huge Bonds fan.

"I'm a Barry Bonds fan and I'm a huge SF Giants fan. It's my life. I don't know if I could judge Mr. Bonds after providing me with so much entertainment. It's an intimate relationship," prospective juror No 22 wrote on the questionnaire. "I don't think I could find him guilty."

Mr Bonds hit 762 home runs in a 21-year major league career, mostly with the San Francisco Giants, but his achievements have been overshadowed by the drugs scandal.

He was originally scheduled for trial in 2009, but the case was postponed while prosecutors appealed against a judge's decision not to allow the jury to see evidence relating to Greg Anderson, Mr Mr Bonds' personal trainer.

Anderson has indicated he will refuse to testify and is could be jailed on for contempt of court for the duration of the trial.

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