This week's federal indictment against baseball star Barry Bonds was something that prosecutors, Major League Baseball and even Bonds himself seemed to have wanted for years. Now that it has been filed, though, it's not making any of them look good.
The case against Bonds grew out of an investigation into a Bay Area firm called BALCO that allegedly distributed illegal performance-enhancing drugs. Prosecutors granted Bonds immunity to testify in December 2003, only to hear him repeatedly tell a federal grand jury that he never took such drugs, at least knowingly. Four years later, a second grand jury accused Bonds of lying under oath and obstructing justice. But just as with the cases against Martha Stewart and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the indictment's focus on procedural missteps allowed critics to complain of overzealous prosecution.
For the league, meanwhile, the Bonds controversy has been a festering sore. The first reports tying Bonds and other ballplayers to BALCO's drugs came out in 2004, and the accusations against athletes have been matched by harsh criticism of the game's permissive approach to steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. After months of pummeling by lawmakers, fans and the media, the league and the players union finally agreed to more rigorous testing practices and tougher penalties.