SAN FRANCISCO — Baseball slugger Barry Bonds’ conviction of obstructing justice during a government probe into steroid use was overturned by a U.S. appeals court on Wednesday.
The case involved testimony Bonds gave to a grand jury in 2003 about whether he used steroids to help him bash more long balls. Bonds told grand jurors about his childhood when asked whether his former trainer, Greg Anderson, had given him self-injectable substances.
The slugger was convicted on one obstruction charge in April 2011, and the jury deadlocked on three perjury counts. His sentence of two years of probation and 30 days of home confinement was put on hold pending the appeal of his conviction.
In a ruling on Wednesday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said Bonds gave “a rambling, non-responsive answer to a simple question.” Prosecutors did not provided enough evidence that his statement was material to their investigation, the court ruled, and the conviction must be overturned.
After seven seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Bonds played for the San Francisco Giants from 1993 until he retired in 2007 as Major League Baseball’s career home run leader with 762. He also holds the single-season record with 73 homers in 2001.
Suspicions over steroids tarnished his legacy, and he has not been admitted into the sport’s Hall of Fame. Bonds and pitching great Roger Clemens are the most prominent players to have been tried in connection with baseball’s so-called Steroid Era.