U.S. says Bonds failed steroid test before record

SAN FRANCISCO Thu Feb 14, 2008 10:06pm EST

Former San Francisco Giants left fielder Barry Bonds leaves a federal courthouse after a hearing before his perjury trial in San Francisco, California December 21, 2007. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

Former San Francisco Giants left fielder Barry Bonds leaves a federal courthouse after a hearing before his perjury trial in San Francisco, California December 21, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Robert Galbraith

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Baseball home run king Barry Bonds tested positive for steroids in November 2000, months before his record breaking 73-home run season, U.S. prosecutors said on Thursday.

The allegation came in a legal filing in his steroid perjury case which referred to Bonds' long-time trainer, Greg Anderson.

"At trial, the government's evidence will show that Bonds received steroids from Anderson in the period before the November 2000 positive drug test, and that evidence raises the inference that Anderson gave Bonds the steroids that caused him to test positive in November 2000," U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello wrote.

The filing twice referred to a failed drug test in 2001 as well as a failed test in 2000, but prosecutors later said there was a failed test only in 2000. "It's a typo. We'll file a corrected copy tomorrow," said Josh Eaton, a spokesman for Russoniello. "Nothing nefarious is going on here."

Acting for the U.S. government, Russoniello made the assertion in a document that asked a federal court to reject Bonds' motion last month to dismiss the charges that he lied about past steroid use.

Dennis Riordan, one of Bonds' lawyers, said the slugger's defense team would respond to the filing by next Thursday and declined to comment immediately.

In December, the record seven-time National League Most Valuable Player pleaded not guilty to lying to a federal grand jury in 2003 when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs.

The left fielder testified in the BALCO sports steroid case, which ended up jailing his personal trainer, Anderson, and Victor Conte, head of the BALCO lab near San Francisco.

Bonds surged late in his career to break one of the greatest records in American sports -- the career record for home runs. He surpassed Hank Aaron in 2007 and finished the season seven homers ahead at 762.

In 2001, he hit 73 home runs for the San Francisco Giants, the greatest display of power ever in a single season.

EVIDENCE CLUES

Prosecutors have revealed little about the evidence they have in the case against Bonds, the greatest hitter of his era long dogged by suspicions about doping.

The motion to dismiss the case has prompted prosecutors to reveal a bit more of their hand -- but not much, as they ultimately only have to make their case if it goes before a jury.

The filing also referred to a calendar "that showed that 'BB' received steroids in December 2001."

Referring to a question as to whether Anderson talked to Bonds about or gave him human growth hormone, Bonds said no, according to the filing's account of his grand jury testimony. "The government will show at trial only that Bonds' answer to that portion of the question is knowingly false," the motion said.

The latest details to emerge in the ever-widening baseball doping scandal came just a day after Roger Clemens, one of the greatest pitchers in Major League Baseball history, clashed under oath with his former trainer at a congressional hearing over the trainer's claims he injected Clemens with illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

A U.S. federal judge in San Francisco is expected to hold a hearing on Bonds' motion to dismiss the case on February 29.

(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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