BALCO founder to appear before panel

Updated: February 1, 2005, 12:55 AM ET
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- Victor Conte said Monday he is not the source of leaks of grand jury testimony from Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and other prominent athletes who testified before the secret panel that indicted Conte and three others for allegedly distributing steroids.

Victor Conte
APVictor Conte, at the center of the BALCO scandal, denies leaking grand jury testimony.

Conte, who founded the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, which is at the center of a sports steroid doping scandal, is being investigated by a grand jury trying to find out who leaked testimony to the San Francisco Chronicle in violation of secrecy rules and a court order.

"I did not ever provide the SF Chronicle with BALCO grand jury transcripts by any means or method," Conte said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "The facts will eventually come out."

Conte is subpoenaed to appear before the San Francisco panel Tuesday at noon ET and turn over the contents of the hard drive in a computer from Burlingame-based BALCO. He may also be asked to testify.

Authorities also raided his San Mateo house Wednesday, seizing another computer, cellular phone and lab records in an attempt to find whether he was the leak. Last year, the grand jury investigation led to indictments of Conte and three other men connected to BALCO.

Because of Wednesday's raid, Conte said in the e-mail that the government violated the right of secrecy between him and his attorney, Robert Holley, "by confiscating all of the legal documents exchanged by my attorney and myself since the beginning of the case."

Holley said in a court filing late Friday that the computer hard drive the grand jury wants him to hand over also contains trial strategy, including communications between him, Conte, and BALCO vice president James Valente, who is also indicted.

To avoid a conflict of interest, Los Angeles prosecutors are handling the leak investigation because the San Francisco office also had access to the grand jury transcripts although it denies it was the subject of the leak. Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for federal prosecutors in Los Angeles, declined comment.

Last week's search of Conte's house came nearly two months after a series of news reports about the 2003 grand jury testimony of Bonds, Giambi, New York Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield and other baseball players. The testimony from track star Tim Montgomery was leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle in June. Grand jury testimony is supposed to be secret.

Bonds testified that he used a clear substance and a cream given to him by his trainer who was indicted in the case, though Bonds said he didn't know they were steroids, the Chronicle reported. Giambi said he injected himself with human growth hormone in 2003 and used steroids for at least three seasons, according to the newspaper.

Conte is awaiting trial in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on steroid-conspiracy charges for allegedly distributing illegal drugs to more than 30 baseball, football and track and field stars. Also facing trial are Greg Anderson, Bonds' weight trainer, Valente and veteran track coach Remy Korchemny.

The start of that trial is still pending.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press