Indicted! Barry Bonds Busted by a Broken System

Barry Lamar Bonds faces thirty years in prison because the Department of Justice is a corroded husk of political decay. The baseball Home Run King has now been officially indicted on perjury and obstruction of justice charges, and it only took three years and millions of tax dollars to make it happen.

The DOJ’s entire case hinges on the ridiculous question of whether Bonds “knowingly” was on the juice, or lied on the witness stand when he said he took such substances “unknowingly.” The actual indictment parses in language what would shame a Clinton. It reads, “During the criminal investigation, evidence was obtained including positive tests for the presence of anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing substances for Bonds and other athletes.”

This is idiocy raised to the level of law. It makes me wonder what they’re teaching at Jesus-land Legal Academy these days. Did Bonds actually test positive for steroids or were pharmaceuticals only found in these mysterious un-indicted “other athletes”? And what is a “performance enhancer”? That’s not even a legal or medical term; it’s sports radio shorthand. The cortisone shot into Curt Schilling’s ankle in the 2005 playoffs was a performance enhancer. The Viagra coursing through Bob Dole’s veins is a performance enhancer. Whatever keeps that smile glued to Laura Bush’s face is a performance enhancer. It’s a colloquial phrase tells us nothing. It only raises the question whether the indictment was written by Mike or the Mad Dog.

Most of the media has focused on the prison release of Bonds’ trainer and childhood friend Greg Anderson. Anderson has spent the last four months in jail for refusing to testify against his friend. The press is atwitter with speculation that Anderson may have finally turned. But his attorney Mark Geragos says that this is absolutely and unequivocally not the case.

It’s far more likely that Anderson was released because now that the indictment has been served there is no legal basis for holding him. The media, however, has their eye on the wrong ball. The timing that’s important here is not Greg Anderson’s release but the ascension your brand spanking new Attorney General, Mike Mukasey, and his desire for a cheap hit.

Mukasey believes that the pillars of these United States are Mom, apple pie, and protracted torture. As the New York Times wrote on November 1st, “Mukasey, a well-respected trial judge in New York … has stunned us during the confirmation process by saying he believes the president has the power to negate laws and by not committing himself to enforcing Congressional subpoenas. He also has suggested that he will not uphold standards of decency during wartime recognized by the civilized world for generations.”

The fact is that Bonds is under attack from a collection of torture-loving, Habeas Corpus shredding, illegal wire tapping, political operatives. The idea that a Barry Bonds indictment becomes the first act of Mike Mukasey’s Justice Department only exposes Sens. Diane Feinstein and Chuck Schumer, and the other Democratic pols who backed his confirmation. They called him “a man of character” as well as “a strong leader, committed to depoliticizing the agency’s operations.” There is no evidence of character and leadership in this indictment; only the tawdry political desire for headlines.

Mukasey and friends may have worked themselves into a lather over the thought of their “Capone” behind bars. But they shouldn’t be picking out his orange jumpsuit just yet. The indictment comes on the heels of the resignation of San Francisco US Attorney Kevin Ryan. Ryan was by all counts a Bush loyalist but he had earned the ire of the DOJ for, among other things, not indicting Bonds. He apparently didn’t relish the thought of prosecuting the local hero in a San Francisco courtroom. Prosecutors will have that same hurdle of convicting Bonds on his home turf with, apparantly no fresh evidence.

Because it appears that the DOJ has nothing new to say, the plan will be to scorch the jury pool by raising the temperature on the story. Already in the wake of the indictment, the White House felt the need to weigh in saying, among other insipid platitudes, “Clearly this is a sad day for baseball.” You would never know that there are wars and occupations going on that might require some attention. This is like FDR delivering a fireside chat on the death of Fatty Arbuckle. It’s also yet another sign that the justice system has more holes than the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Tomorrow (Friday) I will be demonstrating in front of Mukasey’s Department of Justice along with thousands of my closest friends. We will march because they refuse to indict people for hanging nooses, or see the rape and torture of Megan Williams as a hate crime, or do anything to change the perception that justice means “just-us.” But my vocal chords might be a little more raw than usual at days end. The idea that they have no time for Megan Williams, but invest years in the prosecution of Barry Bonds should make any good person of conscience utterly enraged.

Think about it: Barry Bonds joining Marion Jones in prison. Feel any safer yet?

Dave Zirin is the author of Bad Sports: How Owners are Ruining the Games we Love (Scribner). He can be reached at: Read other articles by David, or visit David's website.

18 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Thomas Victor said on November 18th, 2007 at 12:00am #

    This article is completely wrong. Dave Zirin’s mission in life seems to be to defend colored athletes, right or wrong! It would be so much more interesting if he used his knowledge of the sport to write even-handed (i.e. true) articles about athletes.

    The issue here is simple – do we want sports to allow free use of anabolic steroids, growth hormones ,amphetamines and God knows what else? The answer is NO.

    Bonds, universally acknowledged to be a totally self-centered and unpleasant person, is an obvious steroid user. Unlike Canseco, McGwire and Ken Caminiti he denied it over and over. He made the mistake of denying it while on the witness stand and is now going to pay the price.

    And why did Mukasey get dragged into this. So progressives can be fooled into supporting Bonds??

    Also I live in the SF Bay Area and it isn’t true that he is a hero here.

  2. Jim Cronin said on November 18th, 2007 at 6:29am #

    Call it legal lynching. Racist, white males are no longer allowed to actually lynch Blacks, so the media has become a substitute hangman. Fearful that the high percentage of Black athletes reflects the very racial superiority they themselves would claim, and jealous of the money earned by athletes, they can get their jollies seeing the sports lynching of the month in the media.

    Paul Hornung’s wife wrote an expose of pro football many years ago, when it was mostly white. She not only exposed the appalling behaviors of athletes, such as alcohol abuse and the common use of prostitutes, but the use of medications of various sorts to enhance performance. Steroids are a straw man. As Zirin has pointed out so many times, it is the team owners themselves who provide the encouragement for drug abuse and health abuse by athletes. Business, after all, is business. Barry Bonds is just one more Black sacrifice to appease racists, and the hyped persecution of steroid use a cover girl for the American delusion that the sports business is pure and represents what is best about America. It’s rotten to the core.

  3. gerald spezio said on November 18th, 2007 at 7:05am #

    Barry Bonds is a rich and famous man in big trouble.
    Barry Bonds is in big trouble because a lawyer-in-a-fancy-suit on the public payroll has filed a complaint about his horrendous fibbing.
    On the stand no less.

    Barry Bonds will pay plenty to elude the federal legal eagles on his back.
    Barry Bonds lawyers will get great “star pay” and to-the-moon career publicity.
    Barry Bonds has already paid millions to lawyers for his D-I-V-O-R-C- E.

    We are a country of lawyers who use the law to give us their personal and professional business.
    O J is still chipping to the green and having a grand time.

    Richard Pryor’s own lawyer sued Pryor and collected $500,000 because Pryor had honestly and publicly said;
    “My own lawyer took me – hook, line, and sinker.

    Johnnie Cochran is in lawyer heaven where every word commands a terrific fee.

  4. Lloyd Rowsey said on November 18th, 2007 at 7:51am #

    Absolutely great piece, DZ.

    I remember thinking when I read Juice by Jose Canseco: “but it’s not mainly about money, it’s mainly about power.” The owners — not just of baseball, or sports, but of the media, etc. — will LOSE money smiling, if necessary to control the game.

  5. Peter LaVenia said on November 18th, 2007 at 11:21am #

    Why should we care about Barry Bonds, the millionaire? Because he’s a black athlete who knowingly broke the rules and took steroids? I agree that every athlete who takes them should be shamed – but Bonds is the poster child for arrogance, greed and lies. McGwire and Sosa come in a close second and third.

    As a sports fan I would like to see *all* steroid abusers in the sport exposed and punished, not just Bonds.

  6. cemmcs said on November 18th, 2007 at 1:12pm #

    When is Palmeiro going to be indicted? Oh, that’s right he only lied to Congress. Never mind.

  7. Deadbeat said on November 18th, 2007 at 5:56pm #


    Sterioids was not against the rules of baseball during the time McGwire was caught with steroids in his locker. There has been no evidence to date that Bonds took steroids. There is only the allegation that he lied on the witness stand. Racism is as racism does.

  8. Lloyd Rowsey said on November 18th, 2007 at 7:41pm #

    “The issue here is simple – do we want sports to allow free use of anabolic steroids, growth hormones, amphetamines and God knows what else?”

    Thomas. You refer to Canseco, semi-favorably at least. Have you read his book Juice? I can’t see how you could have, and still make the statement above.

    The issue is not allowing the “free use” of anything. And you shouldn’t put speed in the same category as anabolic steroids and growth hormones. With regard to steroids and growth hormones, Canseco says the issues include extensive education regarding their effects and proper use; careful supervision of their taking with frequent medical monitoring; and further research.

    Canseco also says, and I believe most knowledgeable persons agree with him: steroids in sports are here to stay.

  9. Peter LaVenia said on November 19th, 2007 at 9:46am #

    Deadbeat –

    Are you kidding me? There’s tons of evidence that Bonds took steriods. Have you ever read “Game of Shadows”? Not only are there lab results, his former mistress’ testimony, and his own admissions to the jury, but his statistics don’t lie – as he got older he got “better” and hit more home runs over 35 than before. This is simply improbable for someone who isn’t juicing (ie, it’s never happened before to anyone in the history of baseball).

    I find defenses of Bonds to be weak and based on accusations of racism instead of the truth – the man, like so many others in the sport, took steroids. I don’t care if it was officially in baseball’s rules or not – juicing is a cardinal sin in my book as a baseball fan and is the essence of cheating for an individual player. McGwire, Sosa, Palmeiro, Bonds – I would throw them all out for good with Pete Rose.

  10. Deadbeat said on November 19th, 2007 at 12:06pm #

    There’s tons of evidence that Bonds took steriods

    That’s that is not the basis of the indictment. The basis of the indictment is whether he LIED about taking steroids. Steroid use was NOT against the MLB rules at the time of his supposed use. Perhaps that’s an issue with YOU. So called past baseball “heroes” took performance enhancers so it is duplicitous to judge today’s players and ignore past use.

    There HAS been NO EVIDENCE presented regarding Bonds steriod use and he has NEVER tested positive for steriod use. There has only been circumstantial anecdotes. That’s not evidence. If and when there is evidence presented that Bonds did use steroids he still would not have broken any laws nor was he in violation of MLB rules. He probably due to the racist environment be found guilty of lying before the grand jury. However the question that is not being asked is why a grand jury investigation was needed for something that was legal unless it was designed to target Bonds.

    Bonds has been quite outspoken especially about racism in baseball and the white sportswriters don’t like outspoken black ballplayers.

  11. Deadbeat said on November 19th, 2007 at 12:16pm #

    The issue is not allowing the “free use” of anything. And you shouldn’t put speed in the same category as anabolic steroids and growth hormones. With regard to steroids and growth hormones, Canseco says the issues include extensive education regarding their effects and proper use; careful supervision of their taking with frequent medical monitoring; and further research.

    I disagree. All of these performance enhancers have side-effects so to focus on one and ignore another is duplicitous. The question is why are performance enhancers necessary or encouraged. The reason has to do with economics and the constant pressure put on players to perform and our culture of sports and capitalist ownership. In other words further examination of the socio-economic factors.

  12. Peter LaVenia said on November 19th, 2007 at 12:45pm #

    Deadbeat –

    He hasn’t tested positive for anabolics because that’s not what he was using – he was using the cream and the clear, which are very difficult to test for under laboratory conditions. However, his association with Greg Anderson, a known drug distributor, with BALCO, whose owner openly flaunted distributing drugs, the testimony of people like his mistress Kimberly Bell add up to evidence he did use performance enhancers.

    As a Marxist I agree that the drive for players and owners to make more money and increase profit rates drives all of this. I would like to see baseball collectivized and taken out of the profit realm as much as any other industry.

    As a fan, I would like to see anyone who uses performance enhancers treated harshly by the sport. That goes for McGwire & Sosa as well, whose records should have asterisks or be removed.

    I have no love for the multi-millionaire Barry Bonds or any other baseball millionaires, whose connection to the working class is tangential at best even if their surplus value is being robbed by the bourgeoisie.

  13. Lloyd Rowsey said on November 19th, 2007 at 7:57pm #

    You disagree with what, Deadbeat?

  14. Deadbeat said on November 19th, 2007 at 11:39pm #

    You disagree with what, Deadbeat?

    I disagree with accepting one type of performance enhancer (speed) and rejecting another (steroids). All of these performance enhancers has side effects. The real issue is why they are needed and perhaps an analysis of the entire culture of sports and capitalism is needed

  15. Deadbeat said on November 20th, 2007 at 12:06am #

    He hasn’t tested positive for anabolics because that’s not what he was using – he was using the cream and the clear, which are very difficult to test for under laboratory conditions. However, his association with Greg Anderson, a known drug distributor, with BALCO, whose owner openly flaunted distributing drugs, the testimony of people like his mistress Kimberly Bell add up to evidence he did use performance enhancers.

    Once again the main point is that Bonds did not violate MLB rules even if he used “cream” or any other form of steroids. That’s a fact! Steroids used were not prohibited by MLB at the time and in fact all baseball players were encouraged to use steroids and other performance enhancers. So why is Bonds being indicted for an activity that was not illegal.

    Also how does Bonds having an affair is evidence that he used steroids? Maybe you need viagra but I’ll assume that Bonds is quite “capable”. Peter you argument boarder on the absurd and are full of conjecture like the racist sports writers who desire to see the downfall of an uppity “negro”.

    You’ve also argued false parallels such as Pete Rose — in order to try to “white” – wash your argument. However Rose, whom I met, IS accused of violating MLB rules — betting on baseball. Bonds on the other hand did not violate MLB rules regarding steroids use and as such was able to continue his playing career.

    As a fan, I would like to see anyone who uses performance enhancers treated harshly by the sport. That goes for McGwire & Sosa as well, whose records should have asterisks or be removed.

    As a fan I don’t really give a shit. I’m sick and tired of the owners screwing citizens by shifting the tax and debt burdens for their fucking stadiums. You can’t find a decent playground to play a good game softball. I’m sick and tired of the theater, the arts, and music being crowed out because of professional sports because they cannot get funding.

    Also as a fan, during different eras, players found other ways to “enhance” or degrade their performance. Mickey Mantle was a boozer, Hank Aaron took speed. Both still had to hit the goddamn baseball. Think about facing Sandy Koufax throwing a 100 mph fastball and hitting it performance enhanced or not. Neither you nor I could do that even if they pumped us up full of steroids, speed, LSD or whatever the hell drug.

    And as Tim Wise observes during that eras best loved by Bob Costas the best performance enhancer for MLB players was the fact that Blacks were excluded.

    So Peter, it’s time to wake up from your Disneyland fantasy about professional baseball if you profess to be a Marxist.

  16. Al Corney said on November 20th, 2007 at 12:10am #

    First of all, this is 2007 and you are still using the word “colored” to describe black or African – American people? That, to me, is a clear indictment of your state of mind concerning the people from whence I come. You are obviously clueless concerning what black people have experienced and still experience, negatively in America or you could never use such an archaic term.

    Secondly, Dave Z is a decent human being who has, for reasons only he can answer, chosen to champion the causes of and give a voice to those who have been marginalized and treated as less than human in American society (don’t forget that when the constitution was written, black people were considered three fifths human and many in the United States still, albeit inwardly or in like-minded company, view us that way). He speaks from the heart and with honesty concerning the black athlete about issues or with points of view that gather no mainstream media attention. I thank God that men like him exist and pray that he get a wider and, hopefully, more open minded audience.

    You also said: “Unlike … Conseco… Mcgwire… Caminiti he (Bonds) denied it over and over.” Well I do not know about Caminiti, and Jose Conseco is an open book, but I have never heard about Mark Mcgwire admitting to any steroid use although Mcgwire is outed by Conseco as having using steroids for most of his baseball career going back to the Oakland A’s. He was raised to almost godlike status when he hit 70 homers even though it openly acknowledged that he was regularly using a substance (andro) banned in most major sports other than baseball. But are the federal prosecutor going after him? Did they bring him before a grand jury and ask him questions to put him in position to perjure himself? Did the major media cast suspicion on Mcgwire? No and no and no are the answers to these questions and I beg to submit that had not Bonds broken Mcqwire’s record that none of this (federal prosecution and media assault) would even be happening right now and steroids would still be baseball’s “dirty little secret.” And to sum it up, what is the obvious difference between Mcgwire and Bonds? One is black and one is white. Yep, it’s still all black and white in these United States. Were it not, the voice of Dave Z would not be so needed.

    Finally you said: “And why did Mukasey get dragged into this.” In this case I cannot talk about Mukasey without talking about his boss George W. Bush. Oh yeah, him, the man who lied about WMD’s (along with the formerly respected Colin Powell) to get our nation into war in Iraq, who lied about “regime change” (something we could use here) to keep us in Iraq once there, and who now continues to stay the course in this illegal, unconstitutional, and detrimental (to most Americans) war for profit. He has lied and lied and continues to lie and American soldiers are dying but will the feds prosecute him? Let’s see: Barry Bonds may or may not have used steroids to gain an advantage over a few pitchers in a GAME, mind you, where no one dies but we want to spend millions to send him to jail. George W. Bush, on the other hand, has had a hand in the death of close to 4,000 Americans and countless Iraqi citizens. He is in violation of his oath to defend the constitution by working with the heads of state of both Canada and Mexico to form something called the North American Union, (
    ( And yet, our federal prosecutors only think Barry Bonds is deserving of their attention. Indeed listen to this from Bill Moyers Journal:

    “President Bush and Vice President Cheney espouse the theory of the unitary executive. That means the President’s orders can’t be reviewed, questioned, or altered by the other two branches of government. He alone can say what the law means, or whether or not it will be enforced or ignored. In effect, George W. Bush says his powers must be unilateral and unchecked.
    Critics claim the President has used the war on terror to put himself above the law and that he has created a secret presidency of classified decisions and orders, that approve extraordinary renditions, torture, illegal detentions, and wiretapping without warrants with the collaboration of big telecom companies. This boundless secrecy and surveillance evokes images counter to American values. ”

    Muskasey will not uphold the standards of decency (ie. Torture) during wartime and no one blinks. Barry Bonds gets indicted for perjury, basically for lying to the lawyers who lie as much as they breathe and America (racist America, that is) wants to celebrate. What hypocrisy! A majority of people in this country need to get their priorities straight.


  17. Lloyd Rowsey said on November 20th, 2007 at 4:43am #

    I hope you don’t mind, Al, if I forward this post to Black Agenda Report’s editor, Glen Ford. And if you do, you better email me quick — at ten.labolgcbsnull@yeswordyoll — because I’ve got itchy fingers this morning.


  18. hp said on November 22nd, 2007 at 3:12pm #

    Barry Bonds is the greatest power hitter of all time. Period.