SAN FRANCISCO – A typo in court papers regarding Barry Bonds filed late Thursday by federal prosecutors touched off a brief tempest over the mistaken belief that he failed a drug test in November 2001, one month after breaking the home run record.
In fact, the government meant to reference a previously reported November 2000 failed drug test, U.S. attorney spokesman Josh Eaton said. That drug test was included in the indictment unsealed last year, when prosecutors said the test was for a player they called "Barry B."
The mistake prompted at least one erroneous report that was quickly posted to Web sites around the country.
The filing amounted to federal prosecutors defending their questioning of Bonds before a grand jury, and urging a judge to keep the slugger's perjury prosecution on track.
Bonds had argued that the questions posed to him by prosecutors were ambiguous and confusing. He demanded that the five-count indictment charging him with lying to a grand jury be tossed out. Bonds has pleaded not guilty.
In the filing, prosecutors said Bonds was specifically told before he began testifying in 2003 that he could consult with his lawyers or ask for a question rephrased if he ever got confused.
"Bonds never said he was confused or asked the prosecutor to rephrase a question," the government's filing stated.
Instead, they said their questions left no doubt that they were asking Bonds about his drug use and his relationship with personal trainer Greg Anderson.
Prosecutors said "as the evidence at trial will show, each count charges that Bonds repeatedly lied in answering the same question or questions on the same subject matter."
The matter will be the subject of a court hearing Feb. 29.
In a related proceeding, Anderson and BALCO founder Victor Conte are expected in court Friday for a hearing on whether they can keep all the evidence prosecutors turned over to them from the government's investigation of steroids in sports. Federal prosecutors want the two convicted steroids dealers to return the documents.