Barry Bonds was convicted of obstruction of justice Wednesday for telling a grand jury he did not knowingly use performance-enhancing drugs en route to becoming baseball’s all-time home-run leader, a San Francisco jury found. The jury failed to reach a verdict on three charges of perjury.
But in finding him guilty of obstruction, the jury essentially declared that Bonds was at best evasive and perhaps misleading when he claimed his personal trainer never injected him with banned performance-enhancing substances, when he thrust his arms over his head as he surpassed Hank Aaron in career home runs on a cool night by the San Francisco Bay, when he scowled at those who dared doubt his historical displays of power and competence and innocence.
Bonds, the biggest fish in the big, scummy pond of baseball’s steroid era, could be sentenced to prison, but likely won’t be, because he’s still Barry Bonds, and to many the federal government’s case was as much about disgracing him as it was some technicality of truthfulness. In fact, Bonds’ lawyers asked for the sole conviction to be thrown out, but U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston declined to immediately rule on that request.
Beyond descriptions of cranial growth and testicular shrinkage, the Bonds trial cast little new light on a man accused of cheating the game, who apparently hoped to project himself as a victim of ambitious friends and scientists, and who under oath eight years ago testified he’d not intentionally used performance-enhancing drugs. And it revealed nothing new about the game or its recent past.
Charged with three counts of lying to a grand jury and one of obstruction, Bonds was found guilty of the last charge, for denying he knowingly took performance-enhancing drugs and for testifying no one other than his doctors gave him an injection.