Athlete claims Conte said, 'Everyone's taking it'

Updated: July 31, 2004, 6:28 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- A former San Francisco Giants outfielder and three others told a federal investigator they obtained performance-enhancing drugs from two men charged in a doping scandal involving a San Francisco Bay area laboratory, a newspaper reported Saturday.

Armando Rios, now in the minor leagues, told the agent he purchased a human growth hormone and testosterone from Greg Anderson, trainer for Giants slugger Barry Bonds, according to an investigator's memo obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Additional memos detailed claims by John McEwen, the second-ranked U.S. hammer thrower in 2003, and San Francisco State University sprint coaches Kenny McDaniel and LaKiesha Givens, the newspaper reported.

The three allegedly told an IRS special agent they acquired drugs from Victor Conte, owner of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative.

"Everyone is taking it," McDaniel claims Conte told him of a drug called "rocket fuel," according to the memo.

None of the athletes has been charged with a crime. Rios and McEwen were subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury that investigated an alleged steroid ring involving BALCO. McEwen was recently banned from competition for two years for testing positive for a steroid.

One memo also included allegations about sprinter Tim Montgomery, world record holder at 100 meters, who was charged with steroid use and faces a lifetime ban if found guilty.

"Conte told McDaniel that the reason Tim Montgomery broke the world record was because of the 'rocket fuel,' " the memo said.

Conte's attorney, Robert Holley, criticized leaks of confidential information but declined to comment on the allegations.

Anderson's lawyer, Anna Ling, rejected the memo's claims and said the government was persecuting her client with "outrageous" leaks to the news media.

Anderson, Conte and two others connected to the lab were indicted in an alleged conspiracy to distribute illegal performance-enhancing drugs to top athletes. They have pleaded not guilty.

Both Rios' attorney, Chris Cannon, and McEwen's lawyer, Howard Jacobs, would not comment on allegations contained in the memos, the newspaper said.

McDaniel acknowledged speaking with the agent, but he declined to discuss with the newspaper part of a memo describing Givens' alleged use of "rocket fuel." Givens had previously aspired to make the U.S. Olympic team as a sprinter, the newspaper reported.

He denied any student athletes he had coached obtained "rocket fuel."

The newspaper could not immediately reach Givens for comment.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press