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Day of reckoning as players detail drug use

CORRECTION Bonds Tria_Hers

March 24, 2011: Barry Bonds leaves the federal courthouse during his baseball perjury trial in San Francisco. (AP)

One by one, they walked down the aisle of Courtroom 10 and took a seat on the witness stand for their public day of reckoning.

First Jason Giambi, the 2000 American League MVP. Then his brother Jeremy. And finally Marvin Benard, Barry Bonds' San Francisco Giants teammate.

In the biggest mass confession to steroids use in baseball history, the trio testified Tuesday at Bonds' trial. They all said they purchased and used performance-enhancing drugs from Greg Anderson, the trainer who is in jail for his refusal to testify against Bonds.

"I understood what it was. A steroid," Jeremy Giambi said.

All three had told their stories to a grand jury in 2003, and many details of that testimony were published by the San Francisco Chronicle the following year. And the Mitchell Report in December 2007 detailed the rise of baseball's Steroids Era.

But that was on paper. On Tuesday, the players were forced to answer questions in public from a federal prosecutor about how, when and why they took performance-enhancing drugs.

While Jason Giambi was a cleanup hitter for most of his career, the former Oakland and New York Yankees star led off the athlete testimony on the afternoon of the trial's sixth day. Now a 40-year-old first baseman for the Colorado Rockies, he said he first met Anderson when the trainer accompanied Bonds on the All-Star tour of Japan following the 2002 season — just before the onset of drug testing in baseball. Giambi and Bonds were separated by only an empty locker in the All-Star clubhouse, and Giambi was aware that Anderson worked with Bonds.

When they returned to the U.S., Jason Giambi flew from his home in Henderson, Nev., to meet Anderson in the Bay Area, and Anderson said he would have Giambi's blood tested to determine whether he was deficient in "zinc" and "magnesium." When the results came back, Anderson informed Giambi his sample was positive for the steroid Deca-Durabolin.

"He told me that would trip the Major League Baseball test, and I should look into taking something else," said Jason Giambi, wearing a blue suit, white shirt with checks and black-red-and-white striped tie. "He said he would send me a package of things that I needed."

By mid-December, Anderson sent testosterone to Giambi along with syringes and vitamins.

"Did you understand that to be a steroid?" Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey D. Nedrow asked.

"Yes," Giambi answered.

Bonds is charged with four counts of making false statements to the grand jury and one count of obstruction for denying he knowingly took performance-enhancing drugs. He told the grand jury that Anderson had told him he was taking "flaxseed oil" and "arthritic balm," which in reality were designer steroids nicknamed "the clear" and "the cream."

With the courtroom full and getting warm, Giambi, a five-time All-Star with 415 career home runs, said Anderson explained how the two designer steroids worked by raising both testosterone and epitestosterone and keeping the ratio roughly the same as naturally occurs, so as not to "trip a drug test."

"It was very secretive to get your hands on it," Giambi said.

"The clear" turned out to be Tetrahydrogestrinone (THG) and "the cream" was a testosterone-based substance. Giambi paid about $10,000 to Anderson for several shipments. At least one, possibly more, were sent under the false name "Johnny Bench."

Before Giambi testified, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston told jurors the testimony was to show "the manner in which Greg Anderson distributed performance-enhancing drugs" but that they shouldn't infer "the defendant engaged in certain conduct" just because other players did.

Bonds, in a gray suit, white shirt and gray tie, watched from the defense table, taking notes and occasionally looking to see how jurors reacted. He didn't have any interactions with the players.

As Jason walked out after 36 minutes of testimony, he went past Jeremy, who was on his way toward the witness stand. As Jeremy left a half-hour later, he smiled and gave a pat on the back to Benard, who was on the way in.

Bonds' agent, Jeff Borris, attended the trial for the first time and watched from the Bonds family row.

Jeremy Giambi, tieless in a blue sports jacket and gray crewneck sweater, said he met Anderson only once but they spoke by telephone several times. When Jason got back from Japan, he told his brother about Anderson.

"He had said he had access to an undetectable alternative steroid," Jeremy Giambi remembered Anderson saying.

Like his brother, Jeremy had his blood tested for Anderson.

"He had said that I had some deficiencies in a few categories, and also that he had access to some PEDs and thought it would be a good idea to go on and use these PEDs," said Jeremy, who played for four major league teams from 1998-2003.

Speaking in a staccato clip, Jeremy said Anderson sent him vitamins, human growth hormone, testosterone and "the clear" and "the cream."

During cross-examination, defense lawyer Cristina C. Arguedas read Jason Giambi's 2003 grand jury testimony in which he said Anderson had told him "the clear and the cream had steroid-like effects without being a steroid." Jason Giambi agreed with that testimony.

Benard, whose only big league team was the Giants (1995-2003), had a lengthier history with Anderson. After bringing back veterinary steroids he had used while playing winter ball in Mexico between the 1998 and 1999 seasons, he said Anderson told him "there was better, cleaner stuff I could use."

Wearing a yellow polo shirt and blue jacket, Benard was the most relaxed witness thus far. He said Anderson gave him "the clear" and "the cream."

"I believe he said it was undetectable steroids," Benard said.

He stopped using them rather quickly, because he felt "as stiff as a 2-by-4." Anderson then switched him to HGH, saying "try something else."

In the morning, former Giants head athletic trainer Stan Conte testified Bonds added significant muscle mass before the 2000 season and he noticed acne on the slugger's back. Conte said he suggested to general manager Brian Sabean and manager Dusty Baker at spring training in 2000 that Bonds' trainers, Anderson and Harvey Shields, should be barred from the Giants training room and clubhouse.

Conte said Sabean told Conte to evict the trainers himself. Conte testified that Sabean remained silent when he asked the general manager to back him if Bonds complained. Conte testified that he understood from Sabean's silence that he didn't have the general manager's backing and he dropped the subject.

At a luncheon near AT&T Park, Sabean said he wasn't able to comment. Now manager of the Cincinnati Reds, Baker said at spring training "I don't remember it really."

Illston declined to take action on a request by Bonds' lawyers to have her instruct the jury to disregard testimony Monday by former Bonds girlfriend Kimberly Bell, who conceded she exaggerated when she told a grand jury Bonds' testicles shrank dramatically at the end of their nine-year relationship. Illston told Bonds' lawyers to present her with written arguments.

Benard's cross-examination is to start Wednesday. Asked by Illston whether he was willing to stay overnight, Benard responded: "I have to get out of here, talk to my wife and see what she says."