Along with 97% of the civilized world, we questioned the delay between the BALCO grand jury and the Bonds perjury/obstruction indictment. The New York Times joins the party today.
We speculated that the reasons may be many-fold:
- Laying off Bonds as he pursued the career home run record
- The difficulty in obtaining exactly the correct witnesses, as Greg Anderson -- Bonds' steroid dealer -- sat in jail on a contempt order
- The turnover of San Francisco US attorneys
The Times addresses the issue here. The Times appears to speculate the delay had more to do with the imbroglios at the local US attorney's office. Original USDA Kevin Ryan fell to the Gonzalez scandal. Replacement Scott Schools lasted a couple months. Interestingly, a new USDA name came from Washington -- Joseph Russoniello -- on the day of the Bonds indictment. Thus, confusion at the Department of Justice could add to the Bonds mystery.
Otherwise the Times adds little to the speculation. It notes that Anderson may be compelled to testify - with immunity -- at the new Bonds trial, under the threat of heading right back to jail if he doesn't cooperate.
The Times, along with most journalists, believes the Govt's claim that there were positive tests stems from Conte's operation which tested blood for steroids. However, that is risky:
According to a partial transcript of grand jury testimony released Thursday, a prosecutor questioning Bonds said the test was “associated on a document with your name, and corresponding to Barry B. on the other document.” Victor Conte Jr., who founded Balco and served four months in prison for illegally distributing steroids and money laundering, said he did not believe the test result would be a problem for Bonds. He said it would be difficult for the government to prove that the test actually belonged to Bonds because of gaps in the chain of custody. Further, he said, many legal hormone treatments in 2000 contained ingredients that could cause elevation of steroid levels in the blood.
“I was aware of this all along, so to see this now, what they say is their smoking gun, I don’t see it,” Conte said in a telephone interview.
The Times ends with this speculation:
The government could also have some surprise witnesses. “It’s traditional that prosecutors don’t show all their cards in the indictment,” West said.