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Barry Bonds trial: A strong case for steroid use, but the charge is perjury

Baseball's Giambi brothers, admitted steroid users, testify at the Barry Bonds perjury trial in a San Francisco federal court that they knew what Bonds's trainer was giving them.

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Jason Giambi, currently the Colorado Rockies first baseman and the 2000 American League Most Valuable Player, testified that he received performance-enhancing drugs and instructions on their use from Greg Anderson, Bonds's former trainer, who is jailed for refusing to testify.

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Also testifying was former San Francisco Giants outfielder Marvin Benard, who said Mr. Anderson injected him with a steroid around 1999.

Both Giambis said Anderson mailed them products of the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (BALCO) that were undetectable steroids, and told them how to use them.

'I understood what it was'

All three players said Anderson told them what the substances were.

“I understood what it was; a steroid,” Jeremy Giambi said of his conversations with Anderson.

On the stand Jeremy Giambi was asked if Anderson ever told him what he was taking was flaxseed oil, a substance that Bonds has said he thought he was applying. Giambi replied, “no.”

Earlier Tuesday, prosecutors called two witnesses to discuss the urine samples Bonds provided during the 2003 season, alleging those samples tested positive for the designer steroid THG.

The two witnesses, Barry Sample, chief science officer of Quest Diagnostics, the company that analyzed Bonds’s urine, and Dale Kennedy, who collected the sample, were essential to establish that Bonds’s samples were handled properly and can be used as evidence.

The aim of the baseball players’ testimony was clear: to show that Bonds would had to have known that the substances his trainer had given him were steroids.

But the reason perjury is hard to prove is that one must be able to establish beyond a reasonable doubt what the defendant was thinking at the time of the alleged perjury, analysts say. That means one must clearly establish an internal mind set based on external behavior.

There is also the problem of jury instruction about the legal standard needed for conviction. “Jurors sometimes get confused by that standard [“beyond a reasonable doubt”], says Eldon Ham, adjunct professor of sports law at Chicago-Kent College of Law.

“It does not mean beyond any doubt, or beyond ridiculous doubt, but rather beyond ‘reasonable’ doubt. What is reasonable?”

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