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BALCO head speaks out on steroid charges

November 02, 2004 13:20 IST

The man at the centre of a global sporting doping scandal broke his silence on Monday to accuse prosecutors of "cheating to win" their case.

Speaking for the first time since his indictment in February, Victor Conte said: "They (federal prosecutors) have clearly been cheating to win, much the same as they are accusing the athletes involved in the case of doing."

The head of BALCO -- the laboratory at the centre of the doping scandal -- issued a statement to Reuters after federal officials filed documents last Friday containing new details in the steroid distribution case.

"The feds seem to have absolutely no regard for the law or anyone's rights," Conte said.

"They seem to be determined to win, no matter what it takes. The irony in this case is unbelievable."

Greg Anderson, trainer for baseball star Barry Bonds, BALCO owner Conte, vice president James Valente, and well-known track coach Remi Korchemny have been charged with steroid distribution in a case linked to some of the best-known names in track and field and baseball.


Since his indictment in February, Conte has declined to speak in public, although he has fumed behind the scenes.

"First the feds lie and then they leak. They fabricated evidence and then they illegally leak it to the media," he said in his statement on Monday. "This has been a pattern since the very beginning of the BALCO case."

In their latest filing, prosecutors said they had evidence of Conte's discussion of steroid matters in internet postings, syringes from BALCO's trash and correspondence between Conte and athletes and coaches discussing steroids -- as well as Conte's own admissions.

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the course of the search warrant at BALCO, Conte voluntarily agreed to speak with agents and provided a complete statement regarding his involvement in knowingly illegally distributing steroids to numerous professional athletes in violation of federal law," the government said.

An Internal Revenue Service memo made public on Friday said Conte had provided steroids and advice on them to track and field athletes including Regina Jacobs, Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery and Chryste Gaines as well as baseball stars Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi.


The memo, dated September 3, 2003, said Jones and Bonds received steroids known as the clear and the cream for free in exchange for endorsement of a zinc supplement ZMA. Both athletes have praised ZMA in public but deny using steroids.

"The memoranda of interviews are full of information that was completely fabricated by law enforcement officers," Conte said in his statement on Monday.

Giambi and Sheffield publicly denied using steroids while Montgomery and fellow sprinter Gaines have decided to go before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Jacobs, who has retired, was banned for four years in July after a positive test for the anabolic steroid THG.

Defendants in criminal cases typically decline public comment because of fears that any remarks could harm their case. But Conte apparently feels that his reputation has taken a battering in the arena of public opinion.

"It seems as if the government has now realised that it would be almost impossible for us to get a fair trial," said Conte, a former professional musician without professional training in science.

"Their actions seem to indicate that they are far more concerned about the court of public opinion than they are about what occurs in the legal courtroom."

Prosecutors have not commented in public about the case.

Conte, Valente and Anderson have asked a judge to dismiss the cases against them because of alleged prosecutorial misconduct. A judge will hear the motions next month.

Adam Tanner
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