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Court rules feds are entitled to Major League Baseball steroid testing data

Court rules feds are entitled to Major League Baseball steroid testing data

The names and urine samples of about 100 Major League Baseball players who tested positive three years ago can be used by U.S. federal investigators, a court ruled on Wednesday.
The federal appeals court ruling could bolster the government's perjury case against superstar Barry Bonds if investigators are able to link his name to a positive test from MLB's anonymous testing in 2003. The San Francisco Giants slugger has been the target of a perjury investigation since he testified before a 2004 grand jury that he didn't knowingly use illegal drugs.
The decision also could help authorities find the drug sources. Those who tested positive could be called before the federal grand jury and asked where they obtained their performance-enhancing drugs.
Greg Anderson, Bonds' personal trainer, is currently in prison for refusing to testify in the perjury probe. Anderson previously was convicted of steroids distribution.
Bonds' lawyer questioned why the government continues to pursue Bonds when he doesn't believe the Giants' outfielder was among those who tested positive in 2003.
"If Barry is one of the players that did not test positive in '03 for steroids, I would hope that it would cause the government to rethink their continuing harassment they've engaged in for years," attorney Michael Rains said.
Bonds has always maintained he never tested positive for illegal drug use. However, federal investigators demanded to see the 2003 test results for Bonds, Gary Sheffield, who was recently traded by the New York Yankees, the Yankees' Jason Giambi, and seven other players.
When they raided the testing labs for those 10 results, investigators also seized computer files containing the test results of nearly 100 other players not named in the government's subpoena and warrants.
The unidentified samples had been collected as part of a MLB survey to gauge the prevalence of steroid use. MLB players and owners agreed in their 2002 labor contract that the results would be confidential, and each player was assigned a code number to be matched with his name. Because 5 percent or more of tests for steroids came back positive, it automatically triggered the start of testing with penalties in 2004.
Quest Diagnostics of Teterboro, New Jersey, one of the largest drug-testing firms in the U.S., analyzed more than 1,400 urine samples from players in the 2003 season. Comprehensive Drug Testing, of Long Beach, coordinated the collection of specimens and compiled the data.
Subpoenas were issued to Quest and CDT in late 2003, a day before the test results were to be destroyed, and in April 2004 Internal Revenue Service agents seized the test results and samples. It's unclear whether the data seized includes test results or specimens from Bonds.
The Major League Baseball Players Association protested the seizure as a violation of the players' constitutional rights.
Michael Weiner, general counsel for the players' association, declined to immediately comment, wanting first to review the decision.
The government's investigation of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, the California supplements lab at the center of the doping scandal, already has resulted in guilty pleas from BALCO president Victor Conte, Anderson, BALCO vice president James Valente, chemist Patrick Arnold, and athletics coach Remi Korchemny.
Bonds agreed this month to a $16 million (euro12 million) deal to play for the Giants next season. Details are still being negotiated, and the Giants haven't announced the agreement.


Updated : 2021-05-09 13:43 GMT+08:00