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Giambi’s testimony lacks blunt force

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Jason Giambi, far right, and Jeremy Giambi, second from left, walk into the federal building in San Francisco to testify in the BALCO trial, Dec. 11, 2003.
(Jeff Chiu/AP Photo)

SAN FRANCISCO – Jason Giambi told a federal grand jury in 2003 that he didn’t know whether Barry Bonds was taking banned substances and that he never gained any information about the home run king’s alleged drug regimen from his contacts at BALCO.

Giambi admitted he had been taking the powerful steroid Deca-Durabolin before he met Bonds’ personal trainer, Greg Anderson, after the 2002 season and also told the grand jury that Anderson gave him testosterone and human-growth hormone in addition to the two non-detectable substances produced by the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, the Clear and the Cream. But he never testified to anything that would connect his steroid use to Bonds.

These and other disclosures are contained in Giambi’s sealed 59-page grand jury transcript, reviewed page-by-page by Yahoo! Sports. The testimony by Jeremy Giambi, Jason’s brother, also was reviewed in full.

There has been media speculation that the grand jury testimony of the Giambis and other baseball players in the sweeping BALCO investigation could hurt Bonds in his upcoming perjury trial. At least one player, the retired Bobby Estalella, has been subpoenaed by the government. Neither of the Giambi brothers has yet received a subpoena to testify at Bonds’ trial, according to attorney Brian O’Neill, who represents them. The New York Times reported that prosecutors plan to call both Giambis to testify.

Prosecutors are expected to try to prove that Bonds must have known that the substances given to him by Anderson were steroids. The Giambis could repeat their grand jury testimony that Anderson gave them testosterone and human-growth hormone, although it doesn’t appear that either brother testified to any first-hand or hearsay knowledge of steroid use by Bonds.

Giambi testified that Anderson told him the designer drug also allegedly used by Bonds known as the Clear was “an alternative to steroids” that would not show up on a drug test. Giambi added that he had not seen any proof that the Clear made him stronger.

“I mean, there wasn’t anything miracle about it,” he told the grand jury.

Legal experts say prosecutors might want to establish that calendars Anderson developed for Giambi that allegedly scheduled the player’s various drug and vitamin regimen are similar to calendars allegedly created for Bonds. However, Giambi’s grand jury testimony on the subject is vague. Prosecutor Jeff Nedrow asserted that notations for “Y” and other letters are codes for “testosterone pills or steroid pills,” but Giambi testified that he did not know what the pills contained.

Giambi: “I don’t know. [Anderson] didn’t really explain them. He just had told me to take them. And it had … he explained it had something to do with my system. That’s what he explained. I don’t, he didn’t go into depth about what they were for. But he just kind of said to take it in conjunction with all the other stuff.”

Paula Canny, Anderson’s attorney, said her client will not testify at the Bonds trial. Therefore, she said, the authenticity and meaning of the calendars – either Giambi’s or Bonds’ – might be difficult to establish.

“The calendar is hearsay in the form of a document,” she told Yahoo! Sports. “The government is trying to admit an out-of-court statement. The [Bonds] defense can argue there is no foundation [to establish the veracity of the document].”

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Victor Conte says in his book, scheduled for release this spring, that he never met Jason or Jeremy Giambi.

The central evidentiary hearing in the Bonds case will take place Thursday at U.S. District Court in San Francisco, giving both sides a chance to argue the materiality and admissibility of the calendars.

“Anyone who has seen the testimony of Jason and Jeremy Giambi know that the conclusions that some have drawn about what they said is not necessarily supported by the testimony,” O’Neill said.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Saturday that Jason Giambi “ducked questions about Bonds.” Giambi, however, testified that he asked Anderson about Bonds, but that Anderson did not provide direct answers.

Giambi: “So I started to ask him: ‘Hey, what are the things you’re doing with Barry? He’s an incredible player. I want to still be able to work out at that age and keep playing. … [But Anderson] didn’t ever talk about who he was dealing with, or what Barry was taking. He never explained anything.

“You know I assumed because he’s Barry’s trainer – you know, Barry – but he never said one time, ‘This is what Barry’s taking, this is what Barry’s doing.’ He never gave up another name that he was dealing with or doing anything with.”

Both Giambis testified that Anderson told them the Clear was not a steroid, which was true at the time. The substance in the Clear – tetrahydrogestrinone – was neither illegal nor classified as a steroid until 2005, and leading drug testing authority Dr. Donald Catlin and lead IRS Agent Jeff Novitzky testified to that effect before the same grand jury.

In a larger sense, the Giambis’ testimony suggests that from the outset – just three months after the September 2003 raid on BALCO – the massive steroids investigation was not panning out the way Novitzky described in his official report about the raid.

Yahoo! Sports has obtained a copy of Novitzky’s memorandum of interview with BALCO president Victor Conte during the Sept. 3, 2003, search of the laboratory premises. In it, Novitzky wrote: “Conte has given the Clear and the Cream and advised on its use to the following professional athletes in the following sports,” then listed Jason and Jeremy Giambi under the Major League Baseball heading.

Later, the connections to Conte and his alleged national drug-trafficking scheme were trumpeted at a top-heavy news conference headed by Attorney General John Ashcroft and IRS Commissioner Mark Everson. However, none of it was substantiated by the Giambis’ testimony.

Both brothers testified that they never met Conte, never talked to him on the telephone and never received a single substance directly from him.

Much of the testimony suggests a prosecutor surprised by a series of dead ends. No ties to Bonds or Conte. Limited knowledge about the Clear or the Cream. No sign of a cover-up. The San Francisco Chronicle was the first to report portions of the Giambi brothers’ testimony on December 2, 2004. That article focused mainly on Jason Giambi’s admissions regarding his own steroid use, with no indication that the prosecutors knew the Clear was legal and not classified as a steroid at that time.

Nedrow, the same prosecutor who had interrogated Bonds in the grand jury a week earlier in December 2003 asked Jason Giambi about the Clear and the Cream, “Did [Anderson] tell you exactly what it was?”

“No,” testified Giambi, who apparently not only was fuzzy about what was in the Clear or the Cream, but twice in his testimony confused the drugs and assigned attributes thought to be associated with one to the other. Five times during his testimony he referred to the Clear as an “alternative to steroids.”

Jeremy Giambi was not asked a single question about Bonds and Nedrow admitted that the Clear might not be a steroid. At one point, Giambi suggested that it “has been called a steroid now, correct?”

Nedrow: “Well, there’s some dispute about that.”

Giambi: “Yeah?”

Nedrow: “As a matter of law, as a legal matter, there’s a dispute about that, at least on the Clear.”

The interchange is strikingly different from the interrogation of Bonds, whose testimony has been reviewed by Yahoo! Nedrow acknowledged the hazy legal status of the Clear to Giambi. To Bonds, however, the prosecutor kept his cards close, never letting on that he knew the Clear was legal.

Nedrow began both interrogations with unsuccessful attempts to link the brothers to Conte, asking Jason, “Do you know personally a person by the name of Victor Conte?”

Jason Giambi: “I know the name, but I’ve never met him.”

Nedrow: “Have you ever spoken to Victor Conte on the telephone?”

Jason Giambi: “No.”

In his unpublished manuscript, “BALCO,” Conte wrote: “It is a fabrication by Novitzky that I told him I gave the Clear and the Cream to all of the athletes he listed. I have never had contact of any kind with four of the athletes on Novitzky’s list, including both Jason and Jeremy Giambi.”

The Giambis testified that Anderson provided all the drugs and vitamins during their association with BALCO. Their testimony indicates Anderson created a cloak of mystery around his services. Jason Giambi said that he felt lucky to have the opportunity to work with Bonds’ trainer. “To be honest with you, when I first started to talk to [Anderson] about it, he made it basically sound like I needed a lottery ticket to even talk to him about it. … He was very private about it.”

Nedrow asked Jason Giambi if Anderson had coached him in case problems arose. “Did he ever tell you what to say if somebody caught you with some of these things? Did he give you any kind of story or plan or suggestion as to what to say?

Giambi replied, “You know it never even really even came up. I don’t think he ever, I guess, assumed that, you know, anybody was going to get in trouble or myself or, was going to get in trouble. So, there was never even that conversation.”

The testimony veered from attempts to prove links with Conte and Anderson to evidence that major league players easily obtained steroids from their local gyms. Giambi admitted he tested positive for Deca-Durabolin on the blood panel he took as a condition of beginning a relationship with Anderson and BALCO.

Nedrow asked Jason Giambi: “Did [Anderson] talk to you about something called Deca – Deca – I don’t know if I have the right phrase myself, Deca-Durabolin?”

Jason Giambi: “Yes.”

Nedrow: “And was that one of the steroids he gave you?”

Jason Giambi: “No.”

Nedrow: “How come he didn’t give you that actual one?”

Giambi: “It showed on my test. When I went in for my test, it showed up that I tested positive for that.”

Nedrow: “Was that after you had started working with Mr. Anderson or was that previously?

Giambi: “That was before I had even talked to him.”

Sources close to the Bonds case say the government filings suggesting the home run king tested positive for steroids in November of 2000 are similar in nature to those Giambi testified about – drugs that allegedly were taken before any involvement with Conte or BALCO. Deca-Durabolin can be detected in the body for more than a year after a dose, according to drug-testing experts.

Though the prosecutor tried to tie Jason Giambi’s source for Deca-Durabolin to Anderson or “the Yankees or A’s,” Giambi said his supplier was less well-known: “No, he’s a guy that works out at Gold’s gym.”

Nedrow: “In Vegas?”

Giambi: “In Vegas, yes.”

Nedrow: “Okay. I see.”

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