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Monday, March 27, 2006

Barry Bonds Matter: Judge Throws Out Lawsuit To Block Book Profits

They should just sue for libel

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Judge denies Bonds' move against book

27 March 2006

SAN FRANCISCO: A Californian judge has rejected a move by lawyers for baseball star Barry Bonds to bar two authors and a publisher from profiting on sales of a new book accusing the San Francisco Giants outfielder of using steroids.

Game of Shadows, written by San Francisco Chronicle reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, was based largely on secret federal grand jury testimony about steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs in baseball that was illegally leaked to the writers, Bonds' lawyers claimed.

Bonds' suit accuses the authors and book publisher Gotham Books/Penguin USA, which is part of Pearson Plc, of violating California's unfair competition law. He asked for a temporary restraining order to freeze the profits from the book because it was based on illegally obtained grand jury transcripts.

Bonds' lawyers said any profits from the book should go to charities serving low-income youths.

The allegations in the book, which was published on Thursday, followed the BALCO steroid scandal that has sparked fierce debate over Bonds' place in the baseball record books.

He has denied knowingly using steroids or any other illegal drugs.

Bonds also asked the state court to appoint a receiver to keep track of the money until a court decided on the issue of how the material was obtained.


His lawsuit also named the San Francisco Chronicle and Sports Illustrated, which published excerpts of the book two weeks ago and is a Time Warner Inc. company, as defendants.

After a 50-minute hearing, Judge James Warren rejected the bid for a restraining order, saying he could not find any "irreparable harm that I can stop today."

The lawsuit still stands but Warren said it raised "serious First Amendment issues" and he seemed sceptical of its success.

"The only way to stop profits is to stop publication ... that is what the plaintiff in practice is doing," Warren said.

Alison Berry Wilkinson, a lawyer for Bonds, said in the hearing that the book's publisher and authors should not be allowed to "capitalise unjustly" from information gathered illegally from a grand jury.

In a separate legal move on Friday, Wilkinson asked US Judge Susan Illston to find authors Fainaru-Wada and Williams and the publisher in contempt of court.

"We are confident that when the public learns that allegations written by the authors as fact are based on unsupported fabrications by extortionists and demonstrated liars, the public will fully understand the extent to which they have been misled," Wilkinson wrote.

Baseball set rules against steroids in 2003, and Bonds, the holder of the single season home-run record of 73 set in 2001, has not failed a drug test since. He is within six home runs of tying Babe Ruth for second place on the all-time home-run list and has a chance to pass career leader Hank Aaron.

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