Conte allegedly admits giving Bonds, others drugs

Updated: April 26, 2004, 3:57 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

A report obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle and San Jose Mercury News indicates that the owner of Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative told federal investigators he gave steroids to nearly 30 athletes, including Barry Bonds and track stars Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery.

List Of Athletes In Report
The following 27 athletes are alleged in an IRS investigator's memorandum to have received THG from BALCO Laboratories, according to the San Jose Mercury News. (* indicates those who have tested positive for the drug.)

BASEBALL
Barry Bonds: No. 3 on all-time home run list. Testified before federal grand jury.
Gary Sheffield: New York Yankees standout. Testified before grand jury.
Jason Giambi: New York Yankees star first baseman. Testified before grand jury.
Jeremy Giambi: Former Oakland A's player. Testified before grand jury.
Armando Rios: Former San Francisco Giants player.

FOOTBALL
* Bill Romanowski: Former Oakland Raiders linebacker. Testified before grand jury.
* Dana Stubblefield: Lineman who was the NFL's 1997 defensive player of the year. Testified before grand jury.
Josh Taves: Former Raiders defensive lineman.
* Barret Robbins: Raiders center. Testified before grand jury.
* Chris Cooper: Raiders defensive lineman. Testified before grand jury.
Johnnie Morton: Wide receiver with the Kansas City Chiefs. Testified before grand jury.
Daryl Gardener: Was with the Denver Broncos last season.

TRACK AND FIELD
Marion Jones: Five-medal winner at 2000 Olympics, including three gold. Testified before grand jury.
Tim Montgomery: World-record holder in the 100 meters. Testified before grand jury.
* Regina Jacobs: Qualified for four U.S. Olympic teams in middle-distance events. Testified before grand jury.
* Kevin Toth: Shot put of 74 feet, 4½ inches last April was world's best since 1990. Testified before grand jury.
Alvin Harrison: 2000 Olympic 400m silver medalist; two-time gold medalist in 4x400 relay. Testified before grand jury.
Calvin Harrison (Alvin's twin): 2000 Olympic gold medalist in 4x400 relay. Testified before grand jury.
Kelli White: 2003 world outdoor 100- and 200m champion. Testified before grand jury.
Chryste Gaines: 2000 Olympic 4x100 relay bronze medalist; 1996 Olympic 4x100 relay gold medalist. Testified before grand jury.
Eric Thomas: 2003 U.S. 400m hurdles champion.
Michelle Collins: 2003 world indoor and U.S. indoor 200m champion. Testified before grand jury.
Ramon Clay: 2002 U.S. outdoor 200m champion.
* Dwain Chambers: English sprinter banned by UK Athletics in Feb. for taking steroids.
* John McEwen: Second at 2002 U.S. outdoor hammer-throw compeition.
Zhanna Block: Ukrainian sprinter; two-time world outdoor gold medalist.
Olga Vasdeki: Greek triple jumper.

According to the newspapers, the document summarizes an Internal Revenue Service investigator's interview of Victor Conte last Sept. 3 during a search of the company, at which time Conte volunteered the names of the athletes.

Conte's lawyers confirmed to the NY Times on Monday that in the IRS report, Conte is quoted as saying he provided steroids to high-profile athletes.

But his lawyers claim the statements attributed the BALCO founder are fabrications and that Conte made no such admissions.

And they denied that Conte provided the names of 27 athletes -- among them Bonds, Jones, Montgomery, Kelli White and the Yankees' Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield -- to whom the report states he allegedly gave steroids.

"Victor Conte adamantly denies giving up any names of any athletes, period," Conte's attorney, Robert Holley, told the paper in a telephone interview.

Holley declined to respond when questioned whether Conte had admited or denied giving steroids to athletes.

The report, however, apparently does not say if any of the athletes used the substances -- THG, testosterone cream or both -- obtained from Conte.

The story on the Chronicle's Web site, quoting sources who requested anonymity, said Conte told federal investigators that Jones and Montgomery received the performance-enhancing substances in exchange for endorsements of his nutritional supplement.

Conte's attorneys question the legality of the interview and the veracity of the IRS agent's claims. His lawyers contend the IRS report is filled with fabrications and that Conte's statements have either been falsified or were coerced, as the IRS interview was conducted under intimidating circumstances and without a tape recorder.

"The coercive nature of that interview as well as the disputed contents of what the agents claim was said in that mysteriously unrecorded statement will be the subject of pretrial motions," defense lawyers Holley and Troy Ellerman said in a prepared statement.

Ellerman told the Times investigators were "drunk with power" and accused government officials of leaking information to influence potential jurors.

"If they had any confidence in the case, they'd keep quiet," Ellerman told the paper. Ellerman said Conte was willing to take a lie-detector test to prove he and not provided the names of any athletes to authorities.

According to the Mercury News, Conte, in the report by IRS agent Jeff Novitzky and co-signed by San Mateo County Narcotics Task Force officer Jon Columbet, is quoted as saying:

  • Bonds' trainer, Greg Anderson, brought Bonds and several other baseball players to BALCO to obtain drugs at the beginning of the 2003 season. The steroids were the allegedly giving to Bonds in exchange for his endorsement of Conte's legal supplement, ZMA -- a zinc- and magnesium-based, legal nutritional product.

  • Conte allegedly gave Jones steroids for free in exchange for her endorsement of ZMA. Conte stopped working with Jones in 2001.

  • Conte gave Montgomery steroids in 2002 just before the sprinter set the world record in the 100ms, at 9.78 seconds, in Paris.

    A lawyer for Conte told the Chronicle that the lab owner denied ever providing information to federal agents about any specific athletes receiving steroids.

    Conte said in an e-mail message to The Associated Press that he couldn't comment. Jones' publicist, Lewis Kay, could not be reached for comment.

    Jones' attorney, Joseph Burton, issued a statement saying the Chronicle's story was wrong.

    "Victor Conte is either lying or the statement was involuntarily coerced. This is a character assassination of the worst kind," Burton said.

    "Marion has never had an endorsement deal of any kind with Victor Conte or any of his businesses, and most specifically she has never received any illegal substances from Conte in exchange for her endorsement of his products."

    Jones and Montgomery, both of whom testified last fall before a federal grand jury that indicted Conte and three other men, repeatedly have denied steroid use. All four indicted men have pleaded innocent.

    Bonds, Giambi and Sheffield -- all of whom testified before the grand jury -- have denied using steroids. No athlete has been charged in the case.

    Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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