02/12/2004 2:19 PM ET
Four indicted in steroids probe
BALCO officers, trainers charged by grand jury
A federal grand jury in San Francisco has handed down four indictments in its investigation of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO), naming the company's top officers and two trainers in an alleged distribution of steroids and screening agents to high-profile athletes.
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
The 42-count federal indictment alleges that BALCO provided anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, erythropoietin and other drugs to Major League Baseball and National Football League players, as well as track and field stars.
A formal announcement came at a press conference on Thursday. U.S. attorney general John Ashcroft was joined by Food and Drug Administration commissioner Mark McClellan, Internal Revenue Service commissioner Mark Everson and California law enforcement officials.
"Illegal steroid use calls into question not only the integrity of the athletes who use them, but also the integrity of the sports that those athletes play," Ashcroft said. "Steroids are bad for sports, they're bad for players, they're bad for young people who hold athletes up as role models."
In its defense, BALCO officials have said the company takes blood and urine samples from athletes and then prescribes a regimen of supplements to compensate for vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Late last year, the grand jury heard testimony from San Francisco Giants left fielder Barry Bonds, catcher Benito Santiago, now of the Kansas City Royals, and first baseman Jason Giambi of the New York Yankees.
Athletes from five sports appeared before the panel, including track star Marion Jones, 100-meter world record-holder Tim Montgomery; seven NFL players, including the Oakland Raiders' Bill Romanowski, and Olympic champion swimmer Amy Van Dyken.
None of the athletes was charged and none was named in the court documents.
The indictment names as defendants Victor Conte Jr., the president and chief executive officer of BALCO, and its vice president, James J. Valente. Also indicted were Greg F. Anderson, and Remi Korchemny, coach of world champion sprinter Kelli White of the United States and European sprint champion Dwain Chambers of Great Britain.
White and Chambers have flunked drug tests, as have other athletes coached by Korchemny. Anderson worked personally with Bonds as well as a number of other athletes.
The charges include conspiracy to distribute steroids, possession of human growth hormone, misbranding drugs with intent to defraud and money laundering.
According to the indictment, the four were involved in the activities between December 2001 and Sept. 3, 2003, during which steroids were distributed to athletes on six different occasions.
The indictments come only days after it was revealed that the grand jury served subpoenas late last year to the two agencies that handled the collection and analysis of urine samples taken from MLB players during mandatory drug testing for steroids that began in 2003.
Quest Diagnostics of Teterboro, N.J., analyzed the 1,438 urine samples collected last season by Comprehensive Drug Testing of Long Beach, Calif.
MLB was not served with a subpoena, and the two companies have yet to respond to the legal order to produce the information.
MLB's drug program was initiated last season in the first full year of the latest four-year Basic Agreement negotiated by MLB and the union during the 2002 season. Each player on the 40-man roster of every Major League club was subject to survey testing at least once. When the results revealed that at least five percent of the players tested positive for as a few as one of 27 federally banned anabolic androgenic steroids, the testing was formalized for 2004 on two tracks -- treatment and then disciplinary action for repeated use.
The drug tetrahydragestrinone (THG) has since been added to that list after it was banned late last year by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. THG was banned by the FDA after the grand jury began its investigation into BALCO.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. The Associated Press contributed to this story, which was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.