BALCO Chief Alleges Feds Fabricating Case


Friday, November 19th 2004, 8:10 pm
By: News On 6


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ The founder of the company at the center of an investigation into illegal steroids alleges the government fabricated statements suggesting he provided the substances to top athletes, including Barry Bonds, according to federal court documents filed Friday.

Victor Conte, head of Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, disputed claims by an IRS agent that he had acknowledged providing steroids to the athletes.

``I very clearly told all four of the law enforcement officers present that I would not cooperate with them in any way, regarding any of the physicians, coaches or athletes involved with BALCO Laboratories,'' Conte said in the documents, which dispute statements the government said Conte made when agents raided his Burlingame nutritional supplement business in September 2003.

In court papers last month, IRS agent Jeff Novitzky said, ``Conte openly acknowledged giving testosterone-base cream, itself a steroid, to numerous professional athletes and specifically identified the names of the specific athletes to whom he had given drugs.''

An IRS memo about that conversation listed baseball players Bonds, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield, in addition to track standouts Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery and others.

Those athletes and others testified before a federal grand jury that eventually led to the indictment of Conte, Bonds' trainer Greg Anderson, BALCO vice president James Valente and track coach Remi Korchemny.

Charges include distributing steroids, including the previously undetectable THG, possession of human growth hormone, misbranding drugs with intent to defraud and money laundering. All have pleaded not guilty.

A hearing is set for Dec. 1 in San Francisco in which the four men are seeking to have the charges dismissed. They allege they were subjected to illegal searches and coerced by federal investigators.

No trial date has been set. Prosecutors did not return calls seeking comment.