Barry Bonds tested positive for anabolic steroids three times in the months before the 2001 season, when he hit a record-breaking 73 home runs, according to documents released Wednesday that illustrate the government's perjury case against the disgraced slugger.
The federal government has charged Bonds, 44, with lying to a federal grand jury about steroid use during his career with the San Francisco Giants. Bonds has acknowledged that he used substances known as "the cream" and "the clear," but has maintained he did not know they were performance-enhancing drugs.
The documents made public Wednesday marked the first time the government had produced evidence alleging that Bonds used steroids before the historic 2001 season.
The information came in court filings from the U.S. attorney's office in San Francisco. The government is trying to persuade U.S. District Judge Susan Illston to admit evidence that has been gathered against Bonds since the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO, was raided in September 2003.
Illston decided to unseal the documents because she will begin hearing arguments today about what will be admissible at trial. Bonds' trial is scheduled to begin March 2 in San Francisco.
Bonds, a free agent who did not play in 2008, is scheduled to appear in Illston's San Francisco courtroom today and is expected to plead not guilty to a revised indictment.
Prosecutors said Bonds was being supplied with "designer" steroids by BALCO, which had an independent lab test him numerous times beginning in 2000 to ensure that the drugs were undetectable.
The documents released Wednesday include a transcript of a tape-recorded conversation allegedly between Greg Anderson, Bonds' personal trainer, and Steve Hoskins, Bonds' former longtime friend and assistant, showing that Bonds knew he was using illicit substances, government lawyers said.
Anderson apparently talked in the March 2003 conversation about changing the steroid injection sites on Bonds' body to avoid infections, and said, "I'm not even trippin' " about drug tests to be administered later that year by Major League Baseball.
That's because he was injecting Bonds with undetectable substances and claimed he would have one or two weeks' advance notice from a testing lab, Anderson allegedly says on the tape.
"You can take it the day of [testing] and pee and it comes up with nothing," the person identified as Anderson tells Hoskins.
The government said in the filing that Hoskins taped Anderson because Bonds' father, Bobby, didn't think his son was using steroids and Hoskins sought proof.
"This is overwhelming evidence that the defendant [Bonds] committed perjury when he denied knowingly using steroids [to a federal grand jury] or ever being injected by anyone other than a doctor," prosecutors wrote in the unsealed filing, referring to Bonds' December 2003 grand jury testimony.
Defense lawyers have asked the judge to throw out a considerable portion of the government's evidence, including purported drug tests, doping calendars and ledgers -- a request prosecutors said was "without merit."
A spokesman for lead government prosecutor Matthew Parrella declined to comment.
Bonds' attorney, Allen Ruby, said the positive drug tests shouldn't come as a surprise because "Barry has already testified he used [designer steroids] the cream and the clear," contending in his grand jury testimony that he thought the substances distributed by BALCO were an arthritic balm and flaxseed oil.
"What would you expect it to show?" Ruby asked of the positive steroid results.
Prosecutors contend that BALCO tested Bonds 27 times between 2000 and 2006 "to ensure that [the cream and the clear] worked and were undetectable."
The government said Bonds came up positive for the anabolic steroid methenolone in three tests between November 2000 and February 2001, and twice for the steroid nandrolone in those same tests, according to logs seized from BALCO.
Baseball first tested for steroids in 2003, in a penalty-free survey under which players were promised anonymity. Random testing -- with suspensions -- would not have been instituted unless more than 5% of tests turned up positive in the 2003 survey. At the time, baseball officials said 5% to 7% of tests turned up positive.
Bonds submitted a urine sample in June 2003 that came up negative. But a year later, according to the government documents released Wednesday, the sample was identified as the designer steroid THG when retested by the government.
Rob Manfred, baseball's executive vice president for labor relations, said he had not reviewed the court documents. He said he was not concerned about the negative test that later came up positive.
"We believe testing methods have improved significantly each and every year," Manfred said. "Testing done later is probably making better use of new technology."