Bonds writer spills details to Playboy

February 27, 2009 6:55:33 PM PST
With the Bonds case now in limbo, and after six years and tens of millions of dollars of government money spent on an investigation, a San Francisco-based writer is claiming the whole case really amounts to a personal vendetta.

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From the start, the man at the center of the Barry Bonds steroid investigation was Jeff Novitsky. An agent for the Internal Revenue Service - not the agency one would expect to handle a case about sports doping.

"It's tens of millions of dollars, more importantly, the manpower, the intelligence, the loss of resources that could have been spent looking at mortgage fraud, looking at tax fraud, looking at the bankruptcies, lots of other problems," writer Jonathan Littman said.

Littman has covered the Bonds case from the beginning. He attended nearly every hearing and talked to many of the government agents involved. Littman is also the only journalist believed to have interviewed three of the four original agents in the BALCO investigation that launched the Bonds case. He now believes tax payers should be wondering about how their money was spent.

Read about the latest developments in the Barry Bonds perjury trial.

In a new article for Playboy Magazine, Littman claims the Bonds prosecution amounts to a personal vendetta - Jeff Novitsky out to get Barry Bonds.

"If there's a trial, it's not clear who will really be on trial, Barry Bonds or the star investigator Jeff Novitsky," Littman said.

Littman says long before the investigation began, Novitsky told other agents he hated Bonds. And the agents wondered why the IRS was even involved.

"They didn't understand his role, this is not an IRS case, it was supposed to be a steroids case and it was strange the way this IRS agent just sort of took over," Littman said.

While Bonds may turn out to be the poster child for the steroid era, Littman and Bay Area Congresswoman Jackie Speier believe Bonds is the fall guy; the blame, they say, goes higher up.

"Don't forget the commissioner had the power to do something, that Major League Baseball and the managers had the ability to do something, and they chose to look the other way, you can't tell me they didn't know what was going on," Speier said.

"We are talking a lot about Barry Bonds, but maybe we should be talking about Bud Selig and the officials and what didn't happen while everyone was following the celebrities," Littman said.

Novinsky now works for the Food and Drug Administration. ABC7 tried to contact him, but he did not return the calls. The IRS, the Department of Justice and Bonds' attorneys all declined to comment.

Professional baseball, finally feeling the pressure, now punishes any player who tests positive for steroids. Bud Selig claims, "it is now the toughest program in professional sports with the stiffest penalties."

Related link:
Littman's Playboy article

Written and produced by Jennifer Olney.

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