Friday, February 11, 2011

New Sports Illustrated Column on Barry Bonds Case and Impact of Greg Anderson Recording

I have a new SI column on the Barry Bonds trial and how a hearing today will determine whether a recording of a pivotal conversation between Bonds's former trainer, Greg Anderson, and business partner, Steve Hoskins, is deemed admissible or hearsay. In the conversation, Anderson talks about providing Bonds with The Clear (THG).

Here is an excerpt of the column:
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Even if the recording is admissible, Bonds's lawyers could scrutinize the quality and authenticity of the recording as well as the specificity of Anderson and Hoskins's remarks. They are also likely to fuel skepticism as to Bonds possessing any knowledge of the conversation.

Bonds's lawyers could also question whether Bonds understood that the Clear was in fact a "steroid", since it was not specifically banned by Major League Baseball at the time, nor was it specifically classified by the federal government as an illegal steroid. While such a strategy may seem like opportunistic word parsing, keep in mind the wording of the criminal counts in the Bonds indictment (which earlier this week was condensed to five counts, though the exact same penalties remain -- if convicted on all counts, Bonds, as a first time offender, would likely serve between 15 and 21 months in prison). Count One claims that Bonds knowingly lied under oath during grand jury questioning and specifically during this exchange:

Government lawyer: "Let me be real clear about this. Did he [Anderson] ever give you anything that you knew to be a steroid?"

Bonds: "I don't think Greg would do anything like that to me and jeopardize our friendship. I just don't think he would do that."

Government lawyer: "Well, when you say you don't think he would do that, to your knowledge, I mean, did you ever take any steroids that he gave you?"

Bonds: "Not that I know of."

With those statements in mind, Bonds could insist that he did not know the Clear was a steroid. Indeed, Bonds could argue, why should he have presumed that the definition of a steroid in a grand jury proceeding automatically included the Clear or any substance that evades detection in a urine test? Put another way, Bonds and his lawyers could portray "steroid" as an ambiguous word in the context of a new cocktail substance like the Clear and thus vulnerable to incompatible interpretations. Following that logic, Bonds may not have knowingly lied in response to questions about steroids when the questioner (government prosecutor) and answerer (Bonds) assumed different meanings of the operative word: "steroids".

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To read the rest of the column, click here.