Conte sentenced to 4 months in prison, 4 at home
SAN FRANCISCO -- Victor Conte was sentenced to four months in prison and four months' home confinement Tuesday for his role as the mastermind in a scheme to provide pro athletes with undetectable banned drugs.
Conte, who negotiated a plea deal with federal prosecutors, started the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative. The lab, according to court records, counted dozens of prominent athletes among its clients, including baseball's Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi and Olympic track and field star Marion Jones.
Greg Anderson, Bonds' trainer and friend since childhood, was sentenced to three months behind bars and three months in home confinement after pleading guilty to money laundering and a steroid distribution charge.
James Valente, BALCO's vice president, was sentenced to probation after pleading guilty to reduced charges of steroid distribution.
Outside the courthouse, Conte read a statement saying he wanted to rid the sporting world of steroids.
"I've decided to direct my knowledge, experience and determination toward making sports more honorable for the athletes and fans," Conte said.
The case prompted pro sports to stiffen steroid policies and thrust performance-enhancing drugs into the spotlight. THG, a steroid uncovered in the investigation, is now banned throughout sports.
Conte pleaded guilty in July to money laundering and a steroid distribution charge; dozens of counts were dropped as part of his plea deal. Anderson and Conte, who remain free on bond, are scheduled to surrender to prison authorities Dec. 1.
U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan in San Francisco has said the plea deals, which some anti-doping officials have criticized as too lenient, were spurred in part by weak steroid laws and by the fact that some of the chemicals were not banned at the time.
Track coach Remi Korchemny, the fourth and final defendant in the case, is expected to get probation at a later sentencing date.
Meanwhile, officials are taking aim at the alleged BALCO suppliers.
Last month, federal agents raided a laboratory in Champaign, Ill., headed by Patrick Arnold, who's known for introducing the steroid precursor androstenedione in the United States. Andro came to public attention in 1998 when Mark McGwire said he used it when breaking the single-season home run record.
Court records suggested Arnold supplied BALCO with THG, which was known as "the clear."
The two dozen or so athletes who appeared before a grand jury in 2003, including Bonds, Giambi and Jones, were not targets of the steroid probe. They were granted immunity in exchange for their testimony.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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