It’s hard to believe, but the now infamous BALCO sports-doping investigation began nine years ago.
The case officially comes to a close Friday when Major League Baseball all-time home run leader Barry Bonds is sentenced for obstruction of justice for lying to a grand jury about the investigation into steroid use. He was found guilty of obstruction of justice in April.
Bonds could serve anywhere from 15 to 21 months in federal prison for lying, but if federal probation officers have their way Bonds won’t serve a day of prison time.
Either way, the investigation has brought 11 convictions with the biggest name conviction so far being Olympic track star Marion Jones, who was jailed for lying to virtually everyone involved in the investigation.
Still, the question is has it all been worth the millions of tax dollars that have been paid to crack the sports-doping ring in the San Francisco area?
"It absolutely was," MacGregor Scott, the former U.S. attorney for Sacramento, now in private practice at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, told The Associated Press. "It brought a focus and awareness to the steroids issue that wasn't there before."
The prize of the investigation was bringing down Bonds, who lied about knowingly taking performance-enhancing drugs during his career. But Bonds was only convicted of one of four counts levied at him.
As guilty as Bonds seemed, there wasn’t a jury that really wanted to convict him. Prosecutors tried everything to get Bonds to be truthful about his steroid use, including granting him immunity. But because the baseball legend never complied, there remains a big hole in the investigation.
"The evidence at trial demonstrated that Bonds went into the grand jury with the intention of providing false statements and obstructing the grand jury's efforts to get to the truth in the BALCO matter," prosecutors wrote the judge last week, seeking a prison sentence of 15 months for the former San Francisco Giants slugger, according to AP. "Without truthful testimony, the judicial system simply cannot function properly in its mission — to get to justice."
Contact Terrance Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Terranceharris.
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