(01-21) 13:59 PST SAN FRANCISCOÂ —
At a hearing in U.S. District Court inÂ San Francisco, JudgeÂ Susan IllstonÂ rebuffed a plea from Bonds’ legal team to bar the players, including former American League Most Valuable playerÂ Jason Giambi, from appearing as government witnesses at the March 21 trial.
Defense lawyer Dennis Riordan said the players’ testimony might amount to guilt by association, but the judge disagreed. She emphasized that her ruling was tentative and she might revisit it.
Bonds, the former Giants slugger and holder of baseball’s career home run record, is accused of lying under oath when he told a federal grand jury in 2003 that he had never knowingly used banned drugs.
The government says he obtained banned drugs from the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative steroid lab in Burlingame and from his trainer, confessed steroid dealer Greg Anderson.
At the trial, the government said Giambi and five other players would testify that Anderson got themÂ BALCOÂ steroids after they met the trainer through Bonds.
Jason Giambi, a former star with the A’s and New York Yankees, played for the Colorado Rockies last season. The other players are retired.
Federal prosecutors had hoped to show the jury documents seized in a 2003 raid on BALCO to prove Bonds steroid use. But the judge has ruled that much of that evidence, including private drug test results that show Bonds tested positive for banned drugs, is inadmissible evidence.
The private tests were facilitated by Anderson, according to evidence in the case. Anderson has refused to testify. He served more than a year in prison for contempt of court instead.
Without the trainer to authenticate the tests and other documents, the evidence amounts to inadmissible hearsay, the judge has ruled.
With those tests already banned, the defense contended that the players’ testimony would wrongly invite the jury to conclude that Bonds had gotten drugs from Anderson because the other players had also gotten drugs from him. But prosecutors argued that the players should be allowed to testify about their own interactions with the trainer and BALCO.