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Conviction may be overturned

From correspondents in San Francisco
November 05, 2006

GREG Anderson, the personal trainer for baseball star Barry Bonds, convicted in the BALCO steroid scandal, could have the verdict reversed because of an illegal wiretap, the San Jose Mercury News reports today (AEDT).

The newspaper reportes that the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the federal government to respond to allegations it played a tape of an illegal wiretap to a grand jury looking into the San Francisco Giants' slugger.

The appeals court wants to hear by Wednesday an explanation from the government as to why Anderson's grand jury probe was not tainted by the move.

Mark Geragos, Anderson's lawyer, argued the tape was the basis for a 2003 search warrant to Anderson's home and, as a result of it being an illegal wiretap, all evidence should be inadmissible.

"Obviously it is a substantial issue," Geragos told the newspaper. "I'm cautiously optimistic."

Geragos said Anderson would not have accepted a conviction in a plea deal had he known of the potential illegal wiretap, so the lawyer could attempt to reverse last year's conviction of Anderson on money laundering and steroid distribution charges.

Anderson served a three-month federal sentence and three months of house arrest for his role in the BALCO steroid distribution scheme that saw BALCO founder Victor Conte, vice-president James Valente and athletics coach Remy Korchemny convicted as well. None of the cases went to trial.

The tape is a telephone conversation in which Anderson reportedly talks to an unidentified man about giving Bonds undetectable drugs, and Geragos told the Mercury News he thinks he can prove the talk was recorded by an illegal third party or without consent.

US District Judge William Alsup, who read a transcript of the tape, called it "as worthless a piece of evidence as I've ever seen," the newspaper reports.

The government wants the appeals court to uphold Anderson's contempt charge for refusing to answer questions before the grand jury.

Anderson was released from prison on October 6 because the appeals court failed to affirm the decision within the mandated 30 days.

Anderson gave baseball stars Bonds, Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi the once undetectable steroids known as the "clear" and the "cream", according to court records.

The same grand jury that charged athletics coach Trevor Graham with three counts of false statements to federal agents is looking into possible perjury and tax evasion charges against Bonds, who could break the all-time US major league home run record next season.

Anderson is seen as a key witness against Bonds who, according to testimony released by the San Francisco Chronicle, testified under oath in 2003 that he never knowingly took performance-enhancing drugs.

Agence France-Presse

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