Sat, Dec 06, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Bonds gives testimony in grand jury doping probe

TOUGH QUESTIONS Investigators will ask the San Francisco slugger whether his muscle growth is entirely natural as part of their on-going inquiries

AP , SAN FRANCISCO

Barry Bonds, second from left, arrives to answer questions in front of a grand jury.

PHOTO: AP

Barry Bonds appeared before a grand jury focusing on possible tax and drug violations by a California lab that supplied nutritional supplements to some of the nation's top athletes.

The six-time National League MVP entered the grand jury room on Thursday accompanied by attorney Mike Rains.

Bonds has attributed his muscular development over the years to intense weight training, proper diet and a regimen of nutritional supplements. He repeatedly has denied using steroids and argues that his evolution as a home run hitter has been steady.

Grand jurors were now able to ask the San Francisco Giants' slugger under oath whether his growth has been entirely natural. The panel is looking into possible violations by the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO.

Athletes that already have appeared before the grand jury include track star Marion Jones and her boyfriend, 100m world record-holder Tim Montgomery, four Oakland Raiders and Olympic champion swimmer Amy Van Dyken.

An appearance before the grand jury, or being subpoenaed to testify, does not mean an athlete is a target of the probe.

Two people have been named so far as targets of the grand jury -- BALCO founder Victor Conte, and Greg Anderson, Bonds' personal trainer.

Bonds, 39, became a BALCO client just before his record-setting 2001 season and has praised Conte for giving him a personalized nutritional program.

Anderson's home was raided by the Internal Revenue Service and a drug task force Sept. 5, two days after a similar raid at BALCO.

Bonds weighed 185 pounds as a rookie in 1986 and now is a muscle-bound 230. He holds the season record for home runs and is gaining on Hank Aaron's career mark.

"Go look at the back of my bubble gum card," he said after winning a third straight MVP award last month. "My numbers are consistent."

Except for 1989, Bonds has hit at least 24 homers in each of his 17 full seasons. The only dramatic jump came in 2001, when his record 73 homers marked the only time he topped 50.

On the other hand, four of Bonds' five biggest homer totals came in the last four seasons -- all after his 35th birthday.

Bonds has praised Conte for giving him a personalized nutritional program. Bonds posed with Conte and Anderson for this past June's issue of Muscle & Fitness magazine and heaped praise on both.

"I visit BALCO every three to six months. They check my blood to make sure my levels are where they should be. Maybe I need to eat more broccoli than I normally do. Maybe my zinc and magnesium intakes need to increase," Bonds told the magazine.

"Victor will call me to make sure I'm taking my supplements, and my trainer Greg will sit near my locker and stare at me if I don't begin working out right away. I have these guys pushing me."

Bonds brought Anderson, a childhood friend, on a major league tour of Japan after the 2002 season, when the trainer met players such as Jason Giambi -- who also has been subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury.

Anderson's home was raided by the Internal Revenue Service and a drug task force Sept. 5, two days after a similar raid at BALCO.

Anderson's attorney, Bill Rapoport, said computer files and other things "that were not paper" were among items taken in the raid. But Rapoport said he does not know specifically what was taken and said Anderson's only connection to BALCO was when he purchased vitamins from Conte to give to athletes he trained.

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