Government documents reveal link between BALCO, Bonds

Lab vice president denies giving `anabolic steroids'


October 31, 2004|By SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS

SAN FRANCISCO - The vice president of BALCO Laboratories told federal investigators last year that San Francisco Giants star Barry Bonds tried the company's new performance-enhancing drugs but didn't like how one of them made him feel - just one of many allegations included in revelatory documents disclosed by the government late Friday.

According to the investigator's report, James Valente alleged that Bonds received "the clear" and "the cream" - code names for the steroid THG and a testosterone cream - from BALCO "on a couple of occasions." Bonds, according to the memorandum, did not like how "the clear" made him feel.

Valente also alleged that New York Yankees stars Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield took steroids, according to an investigator's account of an interview with the BALCO executive.

Greg Anderson, Bonds' personal trainer, told investigators he gave steroids to a group of baseball players he called "my little guys" - including former Giants Benito Santiago, Marvin Benard, Bobby Estalella and Armando Rios.

The names are contained in accounts of interviews with Valente and Anderson in September 2003, when Internal Revenue Service agents searched BALCO's Burlingame, Calif., headquarters and Anderson's car and condominium. The government made the documents public as part of a rebuttal to a defense motion alleging that the rights of the accused were violated.

Valente and Anderson are charged with supplying illegal, performance-enhancing drugs to elite athletes, as are BALCO President Victor Conte Jr. and Castro Valley track coach Remi Korchemny.

Breaking a yearlong silence, Conte disputed the memorandum's contents. The agent's account alleged Conte confessed to giving drugs to 27 athletes, including Bonds and track star Marion Jones.

"I have never given Barry Bonds anabolic steroids," Conte said Friday night. "I have never even had a discussion with Bonds about anabolic steroids. Anyone who says anything differently is not telling the truth."

Conte's attorney, Bob Holley, said Friday night that the disclosed documents would be used in a call to dismiss the case.

"The government's massive release of confidential information, which should have been placed under seal, is another outrage which militates toward the defense's inability to receive a fair trial in this case," he said.

Rios' attorney, Chris Cannon, said he would not comment without reading the government's material. Bonds' and Santiago's attorneys could not immediately be reached. Estalella declined to comment when reached at his home Friday night.

Anderson gave a different account when it came to Bonds, his friend since Little League.

He told agents that Bonds had never received "the clear" or "the cream" from BALCO, though investigators found folders stuffed with calendars that they reported "appeared to contain details of steroid administration to athletes by dates."

When shown Bonds' file, according to the memorandum, "Anderson stated that he didn't think he should be talking any more because he didn't want to go to jail," wrote IRS special agent Jeff Novitzky, the lead BALCO investigator.

Anderson's interview began the night of Sept. 3, 2003, with the agents quietly confronting the weight trainer at Bay Area Fitness in Burlingame, where Anderson still trains.

Agents rode home with Anderson, who walked through his door and announced to his girlfriend, "The BALCO thing has followed me here," the memorandum says.

Almost immediately, Anderson told agents that he was "a middleman" who "gives a small amount of steroids to people," the memorandum stated.

Anderson also said he paid for his steroids in cash and claimed he didn't make a profit from selling drugs.

Investigators reported that Valente implicated Jason Giambi and his brother, Jeremy - also a former player. According to documents, their urine was tested at the BALCO lab.

"One instance that Valente recalls where athletes did test positive for steroids involved Jason and Jeremy Giambi," the agents' account of their interview with Valente states. "The Giambi brothers came to BALCO and informed them that they had taken a steroid some time ago and wanted to see if it was still detectable in their systems. ... The urine that BALCO collected and sent out for testing came back positive for steroids."

Prosecutors had no comment on the papers filed Friday. U.S. District Judge Susan Illston has scheduled the next hearing in the case for Dec. 1.

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