Lead BALCO investigator on witness stand
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Jeff Novitzky, the tall, unflappable lead investigator of the government’s nine-year sports doping investigation will likely fold himself back into the witness stand for a second day as the lead witness in the Barry Bonds’ criminal trial.
Novitzky is scheduled to continue sparring with Bonds’ tenacious lawyer Allen Ruby on Wednesday, who failed to unnerve Novitzky during a cross-examination of the Food and Drug Administration agent late Tuesday afternoon.
For the third time in as many steroids-related federal trials in San Francisco, prosecutors called Novitzky as their first witness to lay out for a jury how he came to investigate the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, known as BALCO. Novitzky worked for the IRS at the time.
BALCO was home to an international performance-enhancing drug ring that originally ensnared five men, including Bonds’ personal trainer Greg Anderson. Anderson pleaded guilty to dealing steroids to many high-profile athletes. Prosecutors allege Bonds was Anderson’s most important client and have charged Major League Baseball’s career home run leader with lying to a grand jury when he denied knowingly using steroids.
On Tuesday, prompted by questioning from prosecutor Jeff Nedrow, Novitzky recounted for the jury the start of his BALCO investigation. After receiving a tip, and making preliminary Internet searches and examining BALCO finances, Novitzky said he began to root through the lab’s trash every Monday night for about a year and found incriminating evidence tying famous athletes to BALCO and steroid use.
Sipping from a water bottle, Novitzky testified that Bonds came to his attention when he found in the trash magazine articles connecting him to Anderson and BALCO founder Victor Conte at a time when he was investigating both men.
Bonds attorney Ruby took over cross examination and tried to trip him up over forgetting the length of a 2009 interview with a witness while vividly recalling details of the 2003 raid of Anderson’s apartment. Novitzky shot back that a raid resulting in a drug seizure remained indelible in his memory.
Then there was this exchange between Ruby and Novitzky, as they wrangled over what details the agent could remember from his meetings with Stevie Hoskins, Bonds former business partner who is to follow Novitzky on the stand as a government witness.
Ruby: “I interrupted you, I apologize.”
Novitzky: “That’s all right. Don’t worry about it.”
Novitzky previously testified in the BALCO-related trials of Trevor Graham, track star Marion Jones’ former coach, and elite cyclist Tammy Thomas. A jury convicted Graham of lying to Novitzky about his relationship with a steroids dealer. Thomas was convicted of lying to a grand jury when she denied using steroids. Both were sentenced to house arrest.
Novitzky is also the lead investigator in the criminal probe of seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong and was instrumental in getting federal criminal charges filed against seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens related to his alleged involvement with performance-enhancing drugs.