Court documents released late Friday offered detailed accounts of interviews by federal investigators in which BALCO executives allegedly admitted that Barry Bonds received and used steroids.
According to a memorandum summarizing the interview conducted by the Internal Revenue Service agent who headed the investigation, BALCO vice president James Valente told federal investigators on the day the lab was raided in September 2003 that the Giants slugger received alleged steroid substances, as did Valente's boss, lab founder Victor Conte.
In a statement to ESPN, Victor Conte denied the accuracy of the memos.
"First the feds lie and then they leak," Conte's statement said. "They fabricate evidence and they illegally leak it to the media. This has been a pattern since the very beginning of the BALCO case. The memoranda of interviews are full of information that was completely fabricated by law enforcement officials. They have clearly been cheating to win, much the same as they are accusing the athletes involved of doing. The feds seem to have absolutely no regard for the law or anyone's rights. They seem to be determined to win, no matter what it takes. The irony in this case is unbelievable."
In statements attributed to Valente in the government memos, special agent Jeff Novitzky wrote, "Bonds has received 'the clear' and 'the cream' from BALCO on a 'couple of occasions.' According to Valente, Bonds does not like how 'the clear' makes him feel."
The designer steroid THG has been identified by BALCO founder Conte as "the clear," according to government attorneys. A testosterone-based ointment has been called "the cream." The summary of Valente's interview does not indicate whether Bonds stopped taking "the clear" due to his adverse body reaction.
Conte also told investigators that Bonds was a client of BALCO and that he had been given steroids, according to the investigators' memo of his interview. This had been previously reported, although Friday was the first time the document was submitted into the case file.
Bonds, who has not been indicted, has said through his attorney that he has not used steroids.
According to his interview summary, Valente told investigators that BALCO sometimes sent athletes' urine samples for steroid screening. Once, Jason and Jeremy Giambi tested positive for steroids in a test that BALCO arranged, Valente allegedly told the investigators.
Valente also said BALCO sent Bonds' blood to be tested, but the lab put the name of Greg Anderson, Bonds' personal trainer, on the test because Bonds didn't want to be associated with the test, according to the interview summary. Valente didn't tell agents the result of that test, according to the interview summary.
The federal agents also stated in their reports that they seized
calendars and other documents detailing the use of steroids by
professional baseball players during the search of Anderson's home. "Included among these files with apparent steroid distribution
details was a folder for Barry Bonds," Novitzky wrote.
Anderson stopped his interview with investigators, allegedly saying "he didn't think he should be talking anymore because he didn't want to go to jail" after they confronted him with a file that appeared to detail steroid use by Bonds.
Anderson's attorney, Anna Ling, also has cited alleged misconduct by
Novitzky in filing the search warrant affidavits, questioning of
defendants and other matters related to the case.
Federal prosecutors countered Friday, calling the arguments
"meritless," adding that "Anderson's statements are outright
Troy Ellerman, attorney for Valente, told ESPN.com that he is upset that government attorneys released the interview summaries. He labeled as "absolutely false" the notion that Valente fingered Bonds as receiving steroids.
"The federal prosecutors are unadulterated punks and their conduct is going to be 'Exhibit A' to dismiss the case for outrageous government conduct," Ellerman said. "There's a protective order that everyone signs at the outset of the case. We haven't broken our promise. They have."
In a statement to ESPN.com late Friday, Conte denied telling investigators that he gave Bonds steroids.
"I have never given Barry Bonds anabolic steroids at any time. I have never even had a discussion with Bonds about anabolic steroids. Anyone who says anything different is not telling the truth. The memorandum of interview that was released to the media today is filled with information that was completely fabricated by law enforcement officers," Conte told ESPN.com.
The memos were submitted by the U.S. Attorney's office in San Francisco in an attempt by the government to defend against charges by attorneys for four defendants in the case alleging that their clients were subjected to illegal searches and coerced by federal investigators.
The typewritten memos summarizing the interviews cited other athletes who received steroids, including many already mentioned, such as baseball's Gary Sheffield, Benito Santiago and Jason Giambi; NFL players Bill Romanowski,
Dana Stubblefield, Barrett Robbins and
Johnnie Morton; and track stars Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery.
Conte, Anderson, Valente and track coach Remi Korchemny, are charged with distributing steroids, including the previously undetectable THG, to top athletes. Charges also include possession of human growth hormone, misbranding drugs with intent to defraud and money laundering. They have pleaded not guilty.
ESPN.com senior writer Tom Farrey contributed to this story. Information from The Associated Press was also used in this report.