Posted on Dec 17, 2007

Barry Bonds and his cohorts often point to the fact that Bonds never flunked a drug test administered by Major League Baseball. The Mitchell Report suggests that it appears Bonds received advanced warning of two tests in 2003.

According to the report, Bonds was tested for steroid use on May 28 and June 4, 2003 as part of MLB's first attempt at formal detection. The report cites a San Francisco Chronicle report that it had obtained a tape recording of Bonds' personal trainer Greg Anderson boasting he received advanced notice of the testing. According to the report, Anderson supposedly said that he was told that the 2003 testing would occur in late May or early June.

"Therefore," the report said, "if the report of this conversation is accurate Anderson correctly predicted the dates of testing, at least for his client Barry Bonds."

Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell released the report Thursday, culminating a 20-month investigation on steroids in baseball.

While Bonds was under investigation for perjury, Mitchell said Bonds declined to talk to him. "Under these circumstances his refusal to talk with me was understandable," Mitchell said.

On November 15, Bonds was charged perjury and obstruction of justice related to that December 2003 testimony before a federal grand jury.

Also in the report, Mitchell said San Francisco Giants owner Peter Magowan told him that he asked Bonds in 2004 if he took steroids.

"According to Magowan, Bonds responded that when he took the substances he did not know they were steroids but he later learned they were," Mitchell wrote.

"Bonds said that he took these substances for a period of time to help with his arthritis, as well as sleeping problems he attributed to concern about his father's failing health," Mitchell wrote. "To emphasize that he was not hiding anything Bonds added that he used these substances in the clubhouse in the plain view of others."

Magowan said the chat came during the end of telephone conversation with the slugger in February 2004.

"Magowan recalled asking Bonds whether this was what he had told the grand jury," Mitchell wrote. "Bonds replied yes. Magowan also asked Bonds if he was telling the truth, and Bonds said he was."

Magowan reported to Mitchell that Bonds said he discontinued use of the substances after a short time because they didn't work.

Two days after interviewing Magowan, Mitchell said lawyers for the Giants owner called investigators on his staff.

"Magowan's lawyer explained that his client misspoke when he said that Bonds had said that he later learned the substances he had taken were steroids," Mitchell wrote. "According to his lawyer, Magowan could only recall with certainty that (1) Bonds had said he did not knowingly take steroids, and (2) what Bonds said to Magowan during the call was consistent with what Magowan later read in the San Francisco Chronicle about Bonds' reported grand jury testimony."

Bonds' lead criminal defense attorney didn't return a telephone call Thursday.

At least two members of Bonds' inner circle talked with Mitchell, including Harvey Shields, another of the slugger's personal trainers. Shields' interview with Mitchell appears to be consistent with Bonds' grand jury testimony that he thought he was taking legal supplements that were purchased over-the-counter rather than powerful steroids that are legal only with a doctor's prescription.

Mitchell said Shields told him Bonds rubbed a cream on his elbow he thought to be "arthritis cream" and a translucent liquid dubbed the "clear" that Bonds dropped under his tongue. Shields said he believed the clear was flaxseed oil and that Bonds used the clear "more than once."

Mitchell said Shields "claimed to have entered into a confidentiality agreement with Bonds in 2006 that he believed precluded him from disclosing certain information to our investigation."

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