When You've Lost ESPN, it Might Be Time for a Re-think


Sports journalism outlets aren't necessarily known for their over-concern when it comes to civil liberties, particularly when pertaining to jerkoff millionaire athletes. That's why this Jon Pessah column for ESPN magazine about the upcoming Barry Bonds trial is all the more interesting. Pessah discusses something I've written about here a couple of times–the disturbing zeal of IRS prosecutor and avowed Bonds hater Jeff Novitzky, who has been at the center of a six-year shaming exercise that's long since tipped northward of $50 million in taxpayer costs. Excerpt:

[I]n 2004…Novitzky raided Comprehensive Drug Testing, the nation's largest sports-drug testing company. What happened on that day is complicated but boils down to this: Novitzky walked into CDT with 11 armed agents and a search warrant for the confidential test results of 10 baseball players with ties to BALCO. Hours later, he walked out with more than 4,000 medical files, including those of every major league baseball player, a bunch of NFL and NHL pros, and workers from three businesses. Maybe one that employs you.

Three federal judges reviewed the raid. One asked, incredulously, if the Fourth Amendment had been repealed. Another, Susan Illston, who has presided over the BALCO trials, called Novitzky's actions a "callous disregard" for constitutional rights. All three instructed him to return the records. Instead, Novitzky kept the evidence, reviewed the results and received clearance from an appeals court to pursue 103 MLB players who, those records revealed, had tested positive for steroids. (That investigation is pending another appeals court decision, expected this fall.) […]

After [Bonds' trainer Greg] Anderson served three months in jail for dealing steroids and money laundering, Novitzky and the feds put him back in for 13 more for refusing to testify against Bonds. They also waited three years to return $41,420 of the seized $63,920 [from Anderson], violating Anderson's plea agreement. And most recently, they opened tax investigations on his wife and mother-in-law, neither of whom has anything to do with Bonds, to force the trainer to testify.

Whole thing here.