The largest federal criminal investigation into sports doping began more than nine years ago with a tax agent digging through the trash of the now notorious Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative. Barring an appeal, the government's work comes to an anti-climactic end Friday when Barry Bonds - the probe's highest-profile catch - is sentenced for obstruction of justice.
In between, the federal government spent millions of dollars and untold staff hours obtaining the convictions of 11 people. Six of them, including track star Marion Jones, were ensnared for lying to grand jurors, federal investigators or the court. Five men, including Bonds' personal trainer Greg Anderson, pleaded guilty to steroid distribution charges stemming from their BALCO connections.
The investigation in general - and the pursuit of Bonds in particular - ignited a debate over whether the government's long involvement was the best use of public resources.
More than seven years after he testified before a grand jury...