SAN FRANCISCO — One of the world’s foremost experts in detecting performance-enhancing drug use among athletes recounted on Thursday for the Barry Bonds jury how authorities unmasked the designer steroid dubbed the “clear.”
Bonds has admitted using the steroid, but said his personal trainer misled him into believing it was flaxseed oil.
Larry Bowers, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s chief scientist, told the jury Thursday that his agency anonymously received a syringe with trace amounts of liquid in the summer of 2003. Scientists using highly technical chemical-detection equipment came up with a recipe for the liquid. Using the recipe, the agency had a batch ginned up and injected into baboons on their way to developing a urine test for the steroid, also called “THG,” that was put in place by late 2003.
A chemist named Patrick Arnold developed the steroid to evade detection and it was distributed to elite athletes by the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative and Bonds’ personal trainer Greg Anderson.
“THG was pretty clever, cleverly designed,” Bowers testified.
Bowers also testified about the side effects of steroids, such an acne breakout and “bloating.”
The government plans to use that testimony to support the expected testimony of Kimberly Bell, Bonds’ former mistress. Bell plans to testify that she witnessed physical and mental changes in Bonds that prosecutors allege were side effects of steroid use.
With an eye on the forthcoming testimony by Bell, federal prosecutor Jeff Nedrow asked Bowers what effect steroid abuse could have on testicles.
“They would shrink,” Bowers said.
In court papers filed before the trial started, prosecutors said Bell is planning to tell the jury that Bonds’ testicles shrank during their nine-year relationship.
Bowers also testified that scientific studies have suggested an excess of human growth hormone could cause an adult’s head, hands and feet to grow. Prosecutors allege that Bonds knowingly used human growth hormone and witnesses will testify that his head, hands and feet grew during his time with the San Francisco Giants.
Out of the presence of the jury, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston denied Bonds attorney Allen Ruby’s motion to exclude such evidence. Ruby argued unsuccessfully that Bowers failed to offer enough scientific evidence that growth hormone could enlarge a user’s head, hands and feet.
Bowers’ testimony Thursday followed the appearance on the witness stand of Bonds’ estranged childhood friend Steve Hoskins.
Hoskins has testified that he strongly suspected Bonds was using steroids between 1999 and 2003. Hoskins on Thursday testified that Bonds’ surgeon, Dr. Arthur Ting, told him that a Bonds elbow injury was caused by steroid use.
Hoskins testified that around 1999 and 2000 he told Ting that Bonds was using steroids. Ting advised him to tell Bonds to stop using them, Hoskins testified.
Hoskins and Bonds grew up together in a San Francisco suburb. Hoskins worked for Bonds from 1993 until late March 2003 when Bonds had Hoskins sign a document effectively ending what was a lucrative business arrangement for Hoskins.
Hoskins on Wednesday denied accusations that he planned to extort Bonds in the aftermath of that split by secretly recording conversations about steroids with the slugger’s personal trainer and doctor. Hoskins said he made the recordings to convince Bonds’ father, Bobby Bonds, that his son was juicing.
But he conceded Wednesday that he was incorrect in insisting his secretly recorded conversation with trainer Anderson occurred in late March 2003. Under cross examination from Ruby, Hoskins conceded the recording was made later. Ruby suggested that was an important inconsistency because that means the recording was made after Bonds had Hoskins sign the document on March 27, 2003, ending their business arrangement.
Nonetheless, Hoskins denied he had any malicious intentions and said he harbored no ill will toward Bonds at the time of the recording or now.
Bonds, baseball’s all-time home runs leader, is being tried in federal court on four counts of lying to a grand jury and one of obstruction for telling a grand jury in 2003 that he never knowingly took performance-enhancing drugs.