The home run king wasn't home free after all.
Barry Bonds was indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice Thursday and could go to prison instead of the Hall of Fame for telling a federal grand jury he did not knowingly use performance-enhancing drugs.
The indictment came just three months after the San Francisco Giants star broke Hank Aaron's career home run record, and it culminated a four-year investigation into steroid use by elite athletes.
But for all the speculation and accusations that clouded his pursuit of Aaron, Bonds was never identified by Major League Baseball as testing positive for steroids, and personal trainer Greg Anderson spent most of the last year in jail for refusing to testify against his longtime friend.
Then came the indictment -- four counts of perjury, one of obstruction of justice; a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison -- and Bonds' lawyers seemed caught off guard.
The 10-page report mainly consists of excerpts from Bonds' December 2003 testimony before a grand jury investigating the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO. It cites 19 occasions in which Bonds allegedly lied under oath.
"I'm surprised," said one of his lawyers, John Burris, "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."
Burris said he didn't know of the indictment before being alerted by The Associated Press. He said he would call Bonds to notify him.
Anderson was released from prison after the indictment was handed up and refused comment as he walked out.
His attorney, Mark Geragos, said the trainer didn't cooperate with the grand jury.
"This indictment came out of left field," Geragos said. "Frankly, I'm aghast. It looks like the government misled me and Greg as well, saying this case couldn't go forward without him."
Bonds is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on Dec. 7.
Defense attorney Mike Rains said he spoke briefly with Bonds but did not describe his reaction. At an evening news conference, he read a statement accusing federal prosecutors of "unethical misconduct" and declined to take questions.
"Every American should worry about a Justice Department that doesn't know if waterboarding is torture and can't tell the difference between prosecution on the one hand and persecution on the other," Rains said.
In August, when the 43-year-old Bonds became the career home run leader, he flatly rejected any suggestion that the milestone was stained by steroids.
"This record is not tainted at all. At all. Period," Bonds said.
But while San Franciscans cheered his every swing and fans elsewhere scorned every homer, a grand jury quietly worked behind closed doors to put the finishing touches on its report.
"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.
Bonds is by far the highest-profile figure caught up in the steroids probe, which also ensnared track star Marion Jones. She pleaded guilty in October to lying to federal investigators about using steroids and faces up to six months in prison.
The Giants, the players' union and even the White House called it a sad day for baseball.
"This is a very sad day. For many years, Barry Bonds was an important member of our team and is one of the most talented baseball players of his era. These are serious charges. Now that the judicial process has begun, we look forward to this matter being resolved in a court of law," the Giants said.
Union head Donald Fehr said he was "saddened" to learn of the indictment, but cautioned that "every defendant, including Barry Bonds, is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless and until such time as he is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."