Baseball player Barry Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson, was one of four men who asked a federal judge on Monday for permission to keep sensitive court documents detailing drug use among elite athletes.
Bonds' grand jury testimony at the heart of his perjury case was among the documents.
US District Court Judge Susan Illston on Sept. 11 ordered the four to return or destroy the documents they received after they were charged in 2004 with operating a steroids ring centered at the now-defunct Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative.
Federal prosecutors, who requested the order, argue that since all four men -- including convicted steroids dealer Victor Conte, BALCO executive James Valente and former athletics coach Remi Korchemny -- ultimately pleaded guilty, they no longer need the documents. The papers include other athletes' grand jury testimony and search warrants used to raid BALCO and Anderson's house in 2003.
But the attorneys for the men argue that many of the documents are beyond their control, having been leaked to the media or voluntarily turned over to federal lawmakers and Greek government officials conducting steroid probes of their own.
Last year's book Game of Shadows, written by two San Francisco Chronicle reporters recounting Bonds' alleged steroid use, is based mostly on grand jury transcripts and other confidential court documents leaked by former attorney Troy Ellerman.
Ellerman, who represented Valente, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison after confessing he was the authors' source.
In court papers filed on Monday, the four BALCO figures said they fear prosecution based on Illston's order if the sealed documents are leaked again.
The lawyers for the men wrote that "the documents in question, namely grand jury transcripts and search warrant affidavits, have long since been disseminated to media and are in the hands of journalists, prosecutors and investigators around the world."
The document said that Anderson fears a return to prison if the judge's order remains in effect because the government will accuse him of any future leaks.
Anderson spent a little more than a year in prison for refusing to testify against Bonds, who was charged this month with perjury. Anderson was released from prison on Nov. 15, the same day Bonds was indicted on four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice.
"As the recent indictment of Mr. Bonds makes clear, the government was perfectly able to bring perjury and obstruction charges against him without Mr. Anderson's testimony," lawyer Mary McNamara wrote for the four BALCO figures.
The US attorney's office in San Francisco declined to comment.