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BALCO founder tells his story12/04/2004 1:06 AM ET
By John Schlegel / MLB.com
Victor Conte, the founder of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) who faces federal charges of illegally distributing performance-enhancing drugs, attempted to shed light on his role in what has become a far-reaching doping scandal during an interview aired Friday night on ABC News' "20/20". The Conte interview aired in the wake of revelations in Friday's editions of the San Francisco Chronicle that, reportedly, Giants left fielder Barry Bonds revealed in grand jury testimony to have unwittingly ingested steroids given to him by trainer and longtime friend Greg Anderson, who also has been indicted in the federal case. In the "20/20" interview, Conte said he distributed the undetectable performance-enhancing substances known as "the clear" and "the cream" to Anderson but had no knowledge of what Anderson did with the substances from there. According to excerpts published by ABC News, Conte said: "This was not for any specific athlete, but mainly for Greg for his own personal use or whatever he did with it." Conte added, "I have no specific knowledge of this. I didn't say 'Here's clear. Go give this to Gary,' or 'Here's clear. Go give this to Barry.' " Gary Sheffield of the Yankees, who worked out with Bonds in the San Francisco Bay Area between the 2002 and 2003 seasons, previously has said he used "the cream" but was unaware of its contents. Like Bonds, he says he believed it was an analgesic cream. Bonds said in his testimony he believed "the clear," which was administered orally, to be flaxseed oil. Much of the "20/20" piece on Conte by reporter Martin Bashir centers on Conte's relationship with Olympic sprinters Marion Jones, Kelli White and Tim Mongtomery. During the interview, Conte said he provided Jones, a five-time Olympic gold medal winner, with steroids and instructed her how to inject herself prior to the 2000 Summer Games in which Jones won her five golds. The revelation of Bonds' grand jury testimony marked the first time performance-enhancing substances directly were linked to Bonds. In the "20/20" interview, Conte is critical of both the collectively bargained drug-testing program in Major League Baseball and of commonplace recklessness by athletes looking for an edge. Baseball's current labor agreement, an accord between baseball's owners and the Major League Baseball Players Association reached in August 2002, instituted for the first time a ban on performance-enhancing substances and random testing for such substances in the Major Leagues. The program was run as a survey in 2003; the 2004 season was the first with a penalty phase attached. In a statement released Friday, Commissioner Bud Selig again challenged the players' association to accept a more stringent testing policy.
"As I have repeatedly stated, I am fully committed to the goal of immediately ridding our great game of illegal performance-enhancing substances," Selig said. "The use of these substances continues to raise issues regarding the game's integrity and raises serious concerns about the health and well-being of our players.
"I am aware the Major League Baseball Players Association is having its annual meeting with its Executive Board of player representatives next week. I urge the players and their association to emerge from this meeting ready to join me in adopting a new, stronger drug testing policy modeled after our minor league program that will once and for all rid the game of the scourge of illegal drugs."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.