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Bonds' judge likely to exclude positive tests

SAN FRANCISCO - A federal judge overseeing Barry Bonds'criminal case says her "preliminary thoughts" are to exclude fromtrial three positive drug tests, though she's inclined to keep arecorded conversation between Bonds' personal trainer and formerpersonal assistant discussing steroid use.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston said during an evidentiaryhearing Thursday that she was leaning toward excluding the resultsseized by investigators during a BALCO raid unless there is directtestimony tying the urine samples to Bonds.

Bonds is charged with lying to a December 2003 grand jury whenhe said he never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs.

Bonds, who pleaded not guilty to the charges earlier Thursday,stayed for the hearing, sitting quietly at a table with six lawyersfor about an hour.

According to court documents, Bonds tested positive on threeseparate occasions in 2000 and 2001 for the steroid methenelone inurine samples; he also tested positive two of those three times forthe steroid nandrolone.

The three drug tests were some of the strongest evidence thegovernment had in its effort to prove Bonds knowingly tooksteroids.

Illston and the lawyers didn't discuss a fourth positive testseized in 2004 from a lab used by Major League Baseball to test itsplayers during anonymous survey testing in 2003.

The judge also said she was inclined to let the jury hear arecorded conversation between Bonds' personal trainer, GregAnderson, and former personal assistant Steven Hoskins.

Court documents released Wednesday revealed Hoskins, Bonds'childhood friend and personal assistant, secretly tape-recorded a2003 conversation with Anderson in the Giants' clubhouse becauseHoskins wanted to prove to Bonds' father, Bobby Bonds, that his sonwas using steroids.

Anderson and Hoskins, who were near Bonds' locker, werediscussing steroid injections, and at one point, they lowered theirvoices to avoid being overheard as players.

The judge will issue a written decision later. Bonds' trial isscheduled to begin March 2, and lawyers estimate it last about amonth.

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