SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds, baseball's home run king, was indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice Thursday and could go to prison instead of the Hall of Fame for telling a federal grand jury he did not knowingly use performance-enhancing drugs.
The indictment, culminating a four-year investigation into steroid use by elite athletes, charged Bonds with four counts of perjury and one of obstruction of justice. If convicted, he could be sentenced to a maximum of 30 years in prison.
Shortly after the indictment was handed up, Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson, was ordered released after spending most of the past year in prison for refusing to testify against his longtime friend.
The 10-page indictment mainly consists of excerpts from Bonds' December 2003 testimony before a federal grand jury investigating the Bay Area supplements lab at the center of a steroid distribution ring. It cites 19 occasions in which Bonds allegedly lied under oath.
An attorney familiar with the investigation told ESPN's T.J. Quinn that the government obtained the results of positive steroids tests for Barry Bonds during a search of BALCO facilities. The source said the positive results did not come from confidential testing conducted by Major League Baseball and the players association. In approximately 2001, MLB conducted tests to guage the level of substance problems among players. The government subpoenaed those records.
In August, when the 43-year-old Bonds passed Hank Aaron to become the career home run leader, he flatly rejected any suggestion that the milestone was stained by steroids.
"This record is not tainted at all. At all. Period," Bonds said.
Bonds was indicted on four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction. The possible penalties:
• Perjury: Five years in prison, three years supervised release for each count.
• Obstruction: 10 years in prison, three years supervised release.
• Read the indictment (.pdf)
But while San Franciscans cheered his every swing and fans elsewhere scorned every homer, a grand jury quietly worked behind closed doors to put the finishing touches on the long-rumored indictment.
Bonds is by far the highest-profile figure caught up in the steroids probe, which also ensnared track star Marion Jones. She pleaded guilty in October to lying to federal investigators about using steroids and faces up to six months in prison.
Bonds finished the year with 762 homers, seven more than Aaron, and is currently a free agent. In 2001, he set the season record with 73 home runs.
Late in the season, the San Francisco Giants told the seven-time National League MVP they didn't want him back next year.
Bonds could not immediately be reached for comment. One of his attorneys, John Burris, didn't know of the indictment before being alerted by The Associated Press and said he would call Bonds to notify him.
"I'm surprised," Burris said, "but there's been an effort to get Barry for a long time. I'm curious what evidence they have now they didn't have before."