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The Dumpster-Diving IRS Agent and Barry Bonds

Despite massive losses to its sports staff in recent months, the New York Times still consistently has some of the best reporting in newspapers, as evidenced by this tremendous piece on Jeff Novitzky, the IRS dumpster-diver who has busted Marion Jones and other athletes related to the BALCO investigation. It seems as if Novitzky has done some aggressive work on BALCO … but also made a handful of errors, and naturally, Barry Bonds and his lawyers are going to attack his credibility. We don’t want to say this is going to be Mark Fuhrman all over again (and it would be silly, because we haven’t read anything linking Novitzky to racism), but it seems like more will be made of Nowitzky’s tactics than what Bonds actually admitted under Oath, which was all captured in Game of Shadows, and printed in Sports Illustrated (copy and pasted after the jump):

Soon, though, Nedrow and his veteran boss, Ross Nadel, began to show Bonds page after page of documents that implicated him in the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. There were doping calendars that detailed specific drugs to take on specific days. Ledger pages that logged testosterone levels in his body at various points. Documents from steroid tests completed on samples of his blood and urine. The prosecutors peppered him with questions, beginning first with the Cream and the Clear. Bonds’s answers meandered, but he admitted nothing, yielding virtually no ground on his long-standing claim that his tremendous sports achievements had been all natural, the product of hard work and God-given talent.

“At the end of [the] 2002, 2003 season, when I was going through [a bad period,] my dad died of cancer…. I was fatigued, just needed recovery you know, and this guy says, ‘Try this cream, try this cream,'” he said. “And Greg came to the ballpark and said, you know, ‘This will help you recover.’ And he rubbed some cream on my arm … gave me some flaxseed oil, man. It’s like, ‘Whatever, dude.'”

Bonds was shown a vial that the government believed had contained the Clear. Bonds insisted it was for flaxseed oil. He said he had ingested the substance by placing a couple of drops under his tongue — the prescribed method for taking the BALCO steroid but hardly the common way to down flaxseed oil.

“And I was like, to me, it didn’t even work,” he told the grand jury. “You know me, I’m 39 years old. I’m dealing with pain. All I want is the pain relief, you know? … I never asked Greg. When he said it was flaxseed oil, I just said, ‘Whatever.’ It was in the ballpark … in front of everybody. I mean, all the reporters, my teammates. I mean, they all saw it. I didn’t hide it … . You know, trainers come up to me and say, ‘Hey, Barry, try this.'”

Bonds’s approach was obvious: He didn’t know what he put in his body, he simply ingested whatever substance his trainer gave him. If his trainer told him it was flaxseed oil and arthritis cream, then that’s what it was. To people who knew Bonds’s meticulous and controlling nature, the claim was absurd, but the prosecutors didn’t pursue the point.

An Agent Fightin Steroids Harvests Trash and Turmoil (NYT)
Baseball turned a blind eye (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Bud Selig also should be accountable (Sun-Times)

 

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