Barry Bonds associated with Bay Area lab where steroids were found, investigator testifies
A key investigator in Barry Bonds' federal trial testified Tuesday that the government found anabolic steroids and human growth hormones during raids in 2003 on a Bay Area laboratory associated with Bonds, a storage unit and in the home of Bonds’ personal trainer.
Jeff Novitsky, the federal investigator, testified that he began looking at the Burlingame-based Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative in 2002 after discovering the blood testing lab made large cash bank deposits and sent hundreds of checks, with the notation “steroids” in the subject line, to another lab for services.
BALCO was eventually discovered to be selling steroids and various performance-enhancement drugs to the nation’s top athletes. Two of the designer steroids BALCO gave its clients were undetectable to examiners at the time.
Novitzky, turning to address the jury when he spoke, said he made midnight runs to BALCO to sift through its garbage. He also said he went through the laboratory’s medical waste, including urine and blood, in “the dirtiest job I ever had to do in law enforcement.”
Investigators also examined e-mails from BALCO. Novitzky described one e-mail from the founder of BALCO informing a coach of “codes” for the various drugs the lab was giving athletes.
“Be careful at all times about words you use in these e-mails because Big Brother could be watching at any time,” Victor Conte, president of BALCO, wrote to a coach, according to the investigator.
The government searches were conducted at BALCO, a private storage site rented by the laboratory’s president and the home of Greg Anderson, Bonds' trainer and childhood friend. Novitzky said $60,000 in cash also was found in a safe at Anderson’s home.
Out of the presence of the jury, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston sent Anderson to prison Tuesday for refusing to testify in the case. Illston later told jurors that Anderson was “unavailable to both parties,” and jurors were not to make any inference about his absence.
Anderson already has served nearly two years in prison, mostly for refusing to testify against Bonds. Anderson and BALCO officers reached plea agreements with the government that included guilty pleas for distributing steroids.
Bonds is charged with obstruction of justice and four counts of lying to a grand jury convened in 2003 to probe BALCO. Others called to testify before that grand jury included track and field athletes, professional football players, other baseball players, a boxer, a swimmer, a professional cyclist and coaches.
-- Maura Dolan in San Francisco
Photo: Exterior of the Bay Area Laboratories Cooperative in Burlingame, Calif. Credit: Los Angeles Times