According to the testimony of his former mistress, Barry Bonds blamed his 1999 elbow injury on steroid use.
Called by federal prosecutors to the witness stand in Bonds’ perjury trial, Kimberly Bell said that she asked Bonds about the problem with his left elbow, which she described as “a big lump … it looked awful.”
She testified that Bonds responded by saying his steroid use caused the injury, because the muscle and tendons grew too fast for the joint to handle.
“It blew out,” she said.
She also said that Bonds talked about the widespread use of steroids among baseball players, including his suspicion that Mark McGwire was juicing during his assault on the single-season home run record in 1998 – a mark that Bonds later broke.
“He mentioned that other players do it and that’s how they got ahead, that’s how they achieved,” Bell testified.
Bonds is accused of four counts of making false statements and one of obstruction for telling a federal grand jury in 2003 that he never knowingly took performance-enhancing drugs. Dressed in a dark blue suit, Bonds alternately watched Bell on the stand, scribbled notes and whispered to one of his defense attorneys, Allen Ruby, as she testified.
Bell said she and Bonds met on July 3, 1994, and attended a barbecue that day. From there, they shared a nine-year romantic relationship that continued even after Bonds married another woman in 1999.
She further testified that Bonds’ sexual performance declined in the later years of their relationship. She said that his testicles changed shape and shrank. Bell also testified that Bonds grew – and shaved – chest hair and developed acne on his back.
A visibly uncomfortable Bell testified that Bonds’ behavior also changed in the later years of their relationship.
“He was increasingly aggressive, irritable, agitated and very impatient,” said Bell, dressed conservatively in a gray jacket and white shirt.
She choked up as she testified that Bonds verbally abused her starting in 1999, threatening “to cut my head off and leave me in a ditch.” Bell alleged that Bonds threatened that “he would cut out my breast implants because he paid for them.”
Prosecutors allege that the physical and mental changes Bell told the jury about during the last four years of their relationship are side effects of steroids use.
This was the period when Bonds noticeably bulked up and started posting unprecedented power numbers for the San Francisco Giants. The seven-time NL MVP hit a season-record 73 homers in 2001 en route to a career record 762 by the time of his last season in 2007 – months before he was indicted for his grand jury testimony.
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