Federal prosecutors got their conviction on Barry Bonds. Now on deck: Roger Clemens and, maybe, Lance Armstrong.
The governments hazy victory in the Bonds trial – one conviction, three counts undecided – left an equally split opinion on how prosecutors might proceed in the two high-profile doping-related sports cases left on its docket.
Some view the Bonds trial and Wednesdays verdict as more fuel for prosecutors to pursue these kind of cases, while skeptics said the trial produced more questions about why the government is spending so much time and money going after high-profile athletes in less-than-airtight cases.
My guess is, Id expect other investigations to continue, said a former federal prosecutor, Laurie Levenson of Loyola University Law School. I think people will still realize how hard it was to bring a case like this. But I doubt federal prosecutors will be walking away from cases like this. In fact, this will probably embolden them.
Bonds, arguably the biggest name to emerge from the federal investigation into the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, could receive up to 10 years in prison for his obstruction-of-justice conviction, though federal guidelines call for 15-21 months.
What bothers me is that youve got a very powerful federal government that has the money and time and resources to ruin someones reputation, said Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia.
Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France winner, has long been accused of doping despite his long and vehement string of denials and the fact that he has never tested positive. Led by BALCO investigator Jeff Novitzky, who now works for the FDA, the U.S. government has been looking into the cyclists case for nearly 12 months. Armstrongs representatives declined comment when asked about the Bonds verdict.
Meanwhile, Clemens is scheduled to go on trial in July for lying to Congress for denying using steroids. His attorney, Rusty Hardin, did not immediately return an email message from The Associated Press.
The Clemens case is one of the many with roots that can be traced to BALCO, which, according to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, has resulted in the suspension of 25 athletes and coaches in Olympic sports, the forfeiture of more than 30 Olympic medals, U.S. titles and world records. It also helped lead to the drafting of the Mitchell Report, which outed many of baseballs best players, including Clemens, for alleged steroid use.
BALCO was a game changer in preventing fraud, corruption and illicit drug use from ruining our countrys sports, said USADAs Travis Tygart, in explaining the importance of the government investigation.