Alleged 'clear' supplier indicted in BALCO case

Updated: November 4, 2005, 8:03 AM ET
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- An Illinois chemist was indicted for allegedly supplying BALCO with the performance-enhancing drug known as "the clear."

A federal grand jury accused Patrick Arnold of conspiring with Bay Area Laboratory-Cooperative founder Victor Conte to illegally distribute the once-undetectable substance tetrahydragestrinone.

Arnold was charged Thursday with three counts of illegally distributing performance-enhancing drugs. His attorneys say Arnold is innocent.

"Patrick Arnold is a respected chemist and researcher in the field of nutritional supplements," attorneys Nanci Clarence and Rick Collins said in a statement. "He is not guilty and will defend these charges vigorously in a court of law, not in the press. He looks forward to his day in court."

No court appearance has been set, and Arnold has not been taken into custody.

U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan said the indictments mean the government has "taken another important step in the ongoing effort to eliminate the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in sports."

The indictment of Arnold, 39, comes as prosecutors are taking aim at the alleged suppliers of BALCO. The lab, according to court records, counted dozens of prominent athletes among its clients, including Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Olympic track and field star Marion Jones.

Two months ago, authorities raided Arnold's laboratory in Champaign, Ill., and Arnold's name had surfaced in several court documents in the BALCO scheme.

Arnold was known for introducing the steroid precursor androstenedione to the United States. Nicknamed andro, the chemical came to public attention in 1998 when St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire said he used it when breaking baseball's single-season home run record.

The indictment said Arnold trafficked in performance-enhancing drugs designed to avoid detection by sporting leagues, including the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, Major League Baseball and the National Football League.

Conte and Bonds' personal trainer were sentenced to prison time last month for their roles in the BALCO scheme.

Conte, who masterminded the plan, was sentenced to four months in prison and four months of home confinement after negotiating a plea deal with federal prosecutors. Greg Anderson, Bonds' personal trainer, was sentenced to three months behind bars and three months in home confinement after pleading guilty to money laundering and a steroid distribution charge. Anderson and Bonds have been friends since childhood.

BALCO vice president James Valente was sentenced to three years of probation and track coach Remi Korchemny is expected to receive probation at his February sentencing.

According to the indictment, Conte sent e-mails in August 2002 to a Greek track coach urging his athletes to discontinue using the clear because Olympic officials had detected it.

In an earlier June 2001 e-mail released in court documents Thursday, Arnold wrote to a Texas pharmacist that "the designer stuff is very secret and very potent. It is currently being used by several high profile athletes, some of which are having phenomenal success in their sports right now."

Arnold is also accused of distributing the performance enhancing drugs Madol and Norbolethone. Norbolethone was first detected in Olympic cyclist Tammy Thomas' urine by Olympic officials in 2002, according to court documents.

The government says when Thomas' blood was detected, Arnold e-mailed Conte asking him to inform users of Norbolethone to discontinue using it.

"If you know anyone who is taking the stuff who is subject to testing then tell them to stop," according to the e-mail lodged in court documents.

The case is United States v. Arnold, 05-00703.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press