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Baseball Star Bonds Indicted over Steroids Probe

Barry Bonds, who holds the all-time homerun record in baseball, was indicted on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice Thursday in connection with an investigation on steroid use in professional sports. An investigative sports journalist assesses the implications of Bonds' indictment.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Next, the indictment of Barry Bonds. Jeffrey Brown has our story.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Just three months ago, Barry Bonds became the all-time homerun king, surpassing Hank Aaron. But now that record and his future are in doubt.

    After four years of investigation in a broader case about the use of steroids, Bonds was indicted by a federal grand jury yesterday on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.

    Mark Fainaru-Wada broke the story about Bonds and the case while at the San Francisco Chronicle. He co-authored a book on the subject called "Game of Shadows." He's now an investigative reporter for ESPN and joins us now.

    Mark, let's explain the charges first. What's he accused of lying about?

  • MARK FAINARU-WADA, Investigative Reporter, ESPN:

    Sure. There's four counts of perjury, and essentially they stem from Bonds' denials that he had used steroids or that he knew that he was taking steroids.

    One of the charges also is specific about the use of human growth hormone and Bonds' denials about taking that drug. And there's another charge that relates to whether Bonds injected himself with drugs or whether his trainer provided him with drugs that could be injected.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Now, so he's not charged with actually using the steroids, but the indictment says they seem to have evidence that he did so, or it refers to positive tests. Tell us about that.

  • MARK FAINARU-WADA:

    That's exactly right. The case really with Bonds and many of the athletes has not been about whether they used the drugs. They were witnesses in what's become known as the BALCO steroids case, a case driven and focused on distributors of the drugs.

    The athletes were called to testify strictly as witnesses, provided immunity as long as they told the truth. In Bonds' case, the government talks about having evidence, for example, a positive test.

    This is material that was sort of driven by BALCO. BALCO would test the athletes' urine and blood as a means of determining whether the drugs were showing up in their system. In Bonds' case, the government seems to believe they have evidence of that clearly.

    But the question is going to be, can they prove that Bonds knew exactly that these were steroids he was taking? And, again, can they prove that he was injecting the drugs?

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Yes, explain that, because the key question — the key word is "knowingly," right?

  • MARK FAINARU-WADA:

    Right, exactly. This really — the government has plenty of documentary evidence. And I don't think anybody at this point has reached the conclusion that Bonds did not use steroids. Most reasonable people have come to that conclusion.

    The issue now will be for the government in trying to make its case to have corroborating witnesses who can testify about whether they saw Bonds inject or whether they talked to Bonds about his knowing use of these drugs.

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