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Report: Feds raid lab suspected of supplying BALCO

10/2/2005

SAN FRANCISCO -- Federal agents raided the laboratory and home of an Illinois chemist who authorities believe created one of the steroids at the heart of the BALCO sports doping scandal, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday.

Investigators with the Internal Revenue Service's criminal investigation division and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration searched Thursday in Champaign, Ill., at the home and laboratory of chemist Patrick Arnold, the newspaper reported, citing sources who wished not to be identified.

BALCO founder Victor Conte and vice president James Valente identified Arnold as the source of a once-undetectable steroid called "the clear." Conte, Valente, track coach Remi Korchemny and Greg Anderson -- the longtime friend and personal trainer of Giants slugger Barry Bonds -- pleaded guilty to distributing steroids to elite athletes and will be sentenced next month.

Two sources with knowledge of the latest raids also told the Chronicle that the San Francisco grand jury is still hearing testimony in the BALCO case, suggesting the possibility of more indictments to come despite the four plea agreements.

A spokeswoman for the IRS would not confirm the latest raids, but Lt. Ed Ogle of the Champaign County sheriff's office told the Chronicle that deputies assisted federal authorities on a raid Thursday of Proviant Technologies, Arnold's lab in downstate Illinois. Federal agents raided the Bay Area Laboratory
Co-Operative two years ago, carting away boxloads of documents.

Messages left by The Associated Press with Arnold's lab, the sheriff's department and the IRS in Illinois were not immediately returned. A message at Arnold's home said his voice mailbox is full.

The Chronicle said it obtained a copy of a 2001 e-mail exchange between Arnold and Conte that appeared to indicate Arnold was sending the BALCO chief a version of a newly designed steroid called tetrahydrogestrinone, or THG. The drug, administered by placing a couple of drops under the tongue, was designed to be undetectable.

"What I am sending you today is a small sample, about 5 ccs, of the supplement," Arnold wrote to Conte, adding there "should be enough for experimental testing. 2.5-7.5 milligram [whatever that comes out to in cc's or drops], under the tongue should be a decent dosing range."

The Chronicle reported, based on leaked grand jury transcripts, that Bonds testified he used "the clear" as well as another substance called "the cream" but didn't know they were substances prosecutors have identified as steroids.

Within the supplement industry, Arnold was dubbed the "father of prohormones" and was famous for popularizing androstenedione, or andro, in the American market. That substance, which baseball slugger Mark McGwire acknowledged using during the 1998 season when he broke baseball's single-season home run record, has since been
banned by Congress as a steroid precursor.