SAN FRANCISCO - Barry Bonds, baseball's home run king, was indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice Thursday and could face prison instead of the Hall of Fame for telling a federal grand jury he did not knowingly use performance-enhancing drugs.
The indictment, culminating a four-year investigation into steroid use by elite athletes, charged Bonds with four counts of perjury and one of obstruction of justice. If convicted, he could be sentenced to a maximum of 30 years in prison.
Shortly after the indictment was handed up, Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson, was ordered released after spending most of the past year in prison for refusing to testify against his longtime friend.
'During the criminal investigation, evidence was obtained including positive tests for the presence of anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing substances for Bonds and other athletes,' the indictment said.
In August, when the 43-year-old Bonds passed Hank Aaron to become baseball's career home run leader, he flatly rejected any suggestion that this milestone was stained by steroids.
'This record is not tainted at all. At all. Period,' Bonds said.
Bonds finished the year with 762 homers, seven more than Aaron, and is currently a free agent. In 2001, he set the season record with 73 home runs.
Late in the season, the San Francisco Giants told the seven-time National League MVP they didn't want him back next year.
Bonds could not immediately be reached for comment. One of his attorneys, John Burris, didn't know of the indictment before being alerted by The Associated Press and said he would call Bonds to notify him.
'I'm surprised,' Burris said, 'but there's been an effort to get Barry for a long time. I'm curious what evidence they have now they didn't have before.'
Bonds' defense attorney, Mike Rains, declined comment because he hadn't seen a copy of the indictment.
'However, it goes without saying that we look forward to rebutting these unsupported charges in court,' Rains said. 'We will no doubt have more specific comments in the very near future once we have had the opportunity to actually see this indictment that took so long to generate.'
Bonds is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on Dec. 7.
Bonds has never been identified by Major League Baseball as testing positive for steroids.
'I have yet to see the details of this indictment and while everyone in America is considered innocent until proven guilty, I take this indictment very seriously and will follow its progress closely,' commissioner Bud Selig said.