Home-run champion Barry Bonds asked a federal judge in San Francisco Wednesday to overturn his conviction on the only count on which he was found guilty in April.
The count was obstructing justice by giving evasive testimony in 2003 to a grand jury investigating steroid distribution by the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO.
Bonds' lawyers argue in papers filed with U.S. District Judge Susan Illston that a statement the trial jurors identified as evasive was rambling but not untruthful, and was therefore not a crime.
"Unauthorized rambling is not a crime," the defense attorneys wrote.
The former San Francisco Giants slugger's motion asks for either a judgment of acquittal or an order for a new trial on that count.
At Bonds' trial in Illston's court in April, the jury deadlocked on three other charges that he lied when he told the 2003 grand jury he never knowingly took steroids or human growth hormone or received any kind of injection from his trainer, Greg Anderson.
Illston declared a mistrial on those charges and is scheduled to set a new trial date on those counts at a July 1 hearing, unless prosecutors decide not to retry Bonds.
At that hearing, Illston is also expected to give prosecutors a deadline for filing a response to the today's motion.
Joshua Eaton, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, said prosecutors have no comment on retrial plans or the defense motion.
"We are not commenting on any matters related to the Bonds prosecution," Eaton said.
The 2003 statement that the trial jurors found to be evasive was Bonds' response to a prosecutor's question about whether Anderson had ever given him anything that required a syringe to inject himself with.
In that answer, Bonds said he did not talk to Anderson about the trainer's business. He referred to himself as a "celebrity child with a famous father," baseball player Bobby Bonds, and said, "I just don't get into other people's business because of my father's situation, you see."
Bonds' lawyers say in the motion that Bonds did directly answer that same question at least four other times in the grand jury testimony when he denied receiving injections from Anderson.
"The government may not have liked his answers, but Mr. Bonds did answer the questions put to him about injectable steroids," the attorneys said.
"A single nonresponsive answer, coupled with responsive answers to the same question, cannot be criminally evasive, cannot be material and cannot be intentionally obstructive," the lawyers wrote.
The motion also contends that Bonds didn't receive the legally required notice of the charge against him because the allegedly evasive statement was not specifically cited in the 2007 indictment filed against him.
Bonds, 46, set Major League Baseball's single-season home-run record of 73 while playing for the Giants in 2001 and hit the all-time record of 762 in his last season in 2007.
Bonds is one of 11 people who were eventually indicted in connection with the BALCO investigation on charges of illegally distributing drugs or lying in connection with the probe. The others all pleaded guilty or were convicted of various charges.