A US federal grand jury has charged baseball record breaker Barry Bonds with perjury and obstruction of justice over an inquiry into steroids use.
The jury was investigating testimony by the San Francisco star in 2003, in which he said he had never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs. Mr Bonds, 43, became the all-time home run record holder in August, when he beat Hank Aaron’s total of 755 runs. But his feat has been overshadowed by accusations that he used steroids.
The federal jury indictment released on Thursday stated: “During the criminal investigation, evidence was obtained including positive tests for the presence of anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing substances for Bonds and other athletes.” Mr. Bonds faces four counts of perjury and one of obstructing justice, which together carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in jail.
White House ‘sad’
His lawyer, John Burris, when informed about the charges, said: “I’m surprised, but there’s been an effort to get Barry for a long time. I’m curious what evidence they have now they didn’t have before.” The left-hander has never tested positive for drug use and has repeatedly denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs. A spokesman for the White House reacted promptly to news of the charges. “The president is very disappointed to hear this,” he said. “Clearly this is a sad day for baseball.”
Mr Bonds was questioned in 2003 as part of the government investigation into the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (Balco), which has been blamed for supplying performance-enhancing drugs to a number of high-profile athletes, including Olympic gold-medal winner Marion Jones.
The Major League Baseball star has been dogged by rumours since he bulked up noticeably and his home run tally took off after he turned 35. He moved past the legendary Babe Ruth into second place in May of last year with his 715th career home run, and passed Hank Aaron in August. He finished the season on 762 home runs. The slugger announced in September that he would leave the San Francisco Giants at the end of the season after the club decided not to renew his contract. However, the 43-year-old Mr Bonds said that he had no intention of retiring from the game.