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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Guillen, Gibbons get 15-day suspensions; Ankiel, others not punished

Guillen is the only player I know who can blatantly cheat the system, receive a 15-game suspension and then be granted a new $12 million per season contract.

ESPN.com news services

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Jose Guillen and Jay Gibbons were suspended Thursday for the first 15 days of next season for violating baseball's drug policy. The penalties are an indication how the sport might treat players named in the Mitchell report, which could be released next week.

The pair were linked in media reports to the purchase of human growth hormone. Gary Matthews Jr., Rick Ankiel, Troy Glaus and Scott Schoeneweis also were linked to performance-enhancing drugs, but baseball decided there was "insufficient evidence'' to determine they committed a doping violation. They were accused of receiving the substances before 2005.

Guillen told ESPNdeportes.com's Enrique Rojas that his lawyers will appeal the sanction, but he will not comment further on the case. Guillen instructed the players' association to file a grievance, which would be decided by an arbitrator.

ESPN.com first reported that MLB and the players association were negotiating a 10- to 15-day suspension for Guillen on Wednesday.

Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell was hired by baseball commissioner Bud Selig in March 2006 to investigate drugs in baseball. Several media outlets, including ESPN, have been told it could be issued as soon as next Thursday.

Gibbons, who will not challenge his penalty, accepted responsibility and apologized.

"I am deeply sorry for the mistakes that I have made. I have no excuses and bare sole responsibility for my decisions," the Baltimore outfielder said. "Years ago, I relied on the advice of a doctor, filled a prescription, charged the HGH, which is a medication, to my credit card and had only intended to help speed my recovery from my injuries and surgeries."

Orioles President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail said he is glad Gibbons owned up to his actions.

"We completely support the Commissioner's program and his decision with regard to Jay Gibbons' suspension," MacPhail said. "Jay has acknowledged his mistake, and we appreciate his willingness to accept the consequences."

The 15-day penalties match what a second offense would have drawn under 2003-04 rules. Current rules call for a 50-game suspension for a first offense, a 100-game penalty for a second and a lifetime ban for a third.

"Other open investigations should be completed shortly," MLB said in a statement.

The six players whose cases were resolved Thursday met with baseball officials after media reports of their names surfaced in a national drug investigation by the district attorney in Albany, N.Y.

Royals general manager Dayton Moore said the club will support Guillen, who earlier Thursday finalized a $36 million, three-year contract with Kansas City.

"We signed Jose knowing that was a possibility," Moore said Thursday. "While my initial reaction is one of disappointment, I am thoroughly convinced that Jose will put this behind him."

The San Francisco Chronicle reported last month that Guillen bought nearly $20,000 worth of steroids and human growth hormone from 2003 through 2005.

Citing business records, the Chronicle reported Guillen bought more than $19,000 worth of drugs from the Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center between May 2002 and June 2005. He played for five teams during that span: the Diamondbacks, Reds, Athletics, Angels and Nationals.

According to the Chronicle report, some prescriptions for Guillen were written by the same Florida dentist whose license was suspended in 2003 for fraud and incompetence. The dentist also reportedly prescribed HGH to Cleveland Indians pitcher Paul Byrd.

The Chronicle said Byrd made 13 purchases of HGH between August 2002 and January 2005.
Guillen reportedly had some of the shipments sent to the Oakland Coliseum during the 2003 season, after he was traded to the A's. The anti-aging clinic was raided in February as part of an investigation by the Albany County, N.Y., district attorney.

Gibbons got six shipments of Genotropin (a brand name for synthetic human growth hormone), two shipments of testosterone and two shipments of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) between October 2003 and July 2005, SI.com said on Sept. 9, citing a source in Florida with knowledge of a Signature Pharmacy client list.

The pharmacy is under investigation for illegally distributing prescription medications.

The substances were obtained through South Beach Rejuvenation Center/Modern Therapy, a Miami Beach clinic, and sent through Signature, SI.com said.

Ankiel met with baseball lawyers Sept. 11 following a report by the New York Daily News that he received eight shipments of prescription HGH in 2004, before it was banned by baseball.

"We're obviously pleased," said Scott Boras, the agent for Ankiel and Schoeneweis. "As we had said before with each of these players, they had not violated any baseball rule or any state or federal law."

Glaus received shipments at a Corona, Calif., address that traces to the player, SI.com said, citing a source in Florida with knowledge of a Signature Pharmacy client list. SI.com said its information dealt only with receipt of steroids and not use.

Schoeneweis, the veteran New York Mets reliever and a survivor of testicular cancer, received six steroid shipments from Signature Pharmacy while playing for the Chicago White Sox in 2003 and 2004, ESPN reported.

Matthews was sent HGH in 2004 from a pharmacy being investigated for illegal distribution of performance-enhancing drugs, The Times Union of Albany, N.Y., reported last winter.

Matthews denied using HGH, which was not banned by baseball for players with major league contracts until 2005. His agent, Scott Leventhal, declined comment.

Bonds pleads not guilty on all counts- The Saga Continues

Home run king released; next court date set for February
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Lamar Bonds, Major League Baseball's all-time home run leader, pleaded not guilty in federal court on Friday to four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice for allegedly lying about his use of performance-enhancing drugs in testimony given to a grand jury four years ago.

Bonds was released on a $500,000 personal recognizance bond, meaning he won't have to put up that bond unless he violates the conditions of his release, which include committing no crimes, having no contact with court officials and not taking flight from the United States. He was not placed on any travel restrictions.

Bonds, who did not speak to reporters, issued a statement on his Web site on Friday.

"I want to thank my family, friends and fans for their unwavering support. It means everything to me. Despite the charges that have been filed against me, I still have confidence in the judicial system and especially in the judgment of the citizens who will decide this case. And I know that when all of this is over, I will be vindicated because I am innocent."

No date for a trial -- U.S. v. Bonds -- was set. A status hearing instead was scheduled for Feb. 7.

Afterward, in front of the Phillip Burton Federal Building, where the trials of Patty Hearst and those responsible for the Jonestown Massacre were once heard, Bonds' new lead attorney told reporters that his celebrity client was ready for a fight.

"Almost everything we have to say about this case we'll say in court papers, which we will file over the coming months," said Allen Ruby, a high-powered San Francisco Bay Area criminal defense lawyer who joined Bonds' defense team this week. "For today, Barry Bonds is innocent. He has trust and faith in the justice system. He will defend these charges. And we're confident of a good outcome."

The first steps in the long and sometimes tedious litigation process were taken in front of a crowded courtroom No. 10 on the 19th floor of the famous building.

The proceedings took about 20 minutes in two parts. Ruby entered the plea on Bonds' behalf before U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James, and that was followed immediately by U.S. District Judge Susan Illston setting the date for the status hearing.

Bonds was accompanied by five other attorneys, including Cristina Arguedas and Michael Rains. Arguedas, another local criminal defense attorney, is also new to the case this week, while Rains has been on it almost since the federal government began its investigation.

Bonds, wearing a dark blue suit, white shirt and tie with diagonal stripes, waived his right to a speedy trial and answered a number of perfunctory questions, including his name and age. He appeared somber, but not nervous.

James notified Bonds of his Miranda rights. The only point of contention during the 15-minute arraignment portion of the hearing was travel restrictions sought by assistant U.S. attorney Matt Parrella, who presented the government's brief arguments. The government sought free travel for Bonds within the continental U.S., but surrender of his passport and restrictions on his ability to leave the country.

Ruby argued that those restrictions would inhibit Bonds' ability to continue his profession as a Major League player, something he has said he intends to do in 2008. Under the government's proposal, if Bonds signs with an American League team, he would have had to apply for an exemption each time he was scheduled to play in Toronto.

The judge denied Parrella's motion.
After a short break in the proceedings, Illston asked the attorneys for their opinions on when to start the trial. The government, citing unnamed conflicts of interest between members of Bonds' legal team and some of its prospective witnesses, said that the matter had to be resolved in the coming weeks and sought the status hearing instead.

The government is now required to turn over all its evidence to Bonds and his attorneys in what is called the "discovery" portion of the case. The matter cited would restrict turning over some of that evidence until it is resolved, Parrella said. Ruby didn't object, saying that the government is turning over a good portion of its case almost immediately.

"I'm not exactly sure what the government is referring to," Ruby said afterward. "I don't want to guess at that so we'll just see how it unfolds."

Ruby also told the judge that the defendant is considering filing a motion to dismiss the case, stating that on its face not enough evidence was presented in the indictment for it to move forward.

"As we told the judge in court, there may be defects on the face of the indictment, meaning that if you just read it you can see the defects," Ruby said. "If we conclude that that's the case, there will be a motion to dismiss and a briefing schedule and a hearing date. But we're not quite there yet."

Bonds was excused from the Feb. 7 hearing unless a motion to dismiss is scheduled to be heard on that date.

Both before and afterward, as he entered and left the building, Bonds waved to a crowd of onlookers, signing an autograph in the lobby as he left the elevator after the hearing. He was accompanied by his wife, Liz, who was the only family member in attendance. He didn't stop to speak with reporters.

Bonds, the former Giants slugger with 762 career homers, first appeared before a grand jury investigating the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative on allegations of money laundering and illegally dispensing performance-enhancing drugs on Dec. 4, 2003. He testified under oath and with immunity on numerous occasions that he had never used anabolic steroids, testosterone and human growth hormone or had been administered any of those drugs with a needle during the period from 2000-2002.

The indictment cited the actual grand jury testimony elicited from Bonds, alleging that Bonds committed perjury on 19 occasions.

The investigation into the case against Bonds spanned four years, involved three grand juries and led to the jailing of Greg Anderson, Bonds' former personal trainer, for refusing to testify against Bonds. Anderson, one of five people ultimately charged in the case, previously had served three months in prison and three months under house arrest in a plea bargain arrangement. Victor Conte, BALCO's president and founder, was the only other principal to go to prison.

Anderson was released from a federal prison in Dublin, Calif., on Nov. 15, shortly after the indictment against Bonds was unsealed. It's almost certain that if the case ultimately goes to trial, the government will subpoena Anderson to be a witness.

"I fully expect the government to start ratcheting up the pressure on Greg," Anderson's attorney, Mark Geragos, told The Associated Press. "He will never cooperate with the government. He doesn't trust them."

Friday's hearing occurred four months to the day in San Francisco -- Aug. 7 -- on which Bonds hit his 756th home run to pass Hank Aaron and set Major League Baseball's all-time home run record. Currently a free agent, Bonds played his final game for the Giants on Sept. 26 at AT&T Park. He was told at the end of September that the club would not consider bringing him back for a 16th season as a Giant.

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