One was the nutritional guru for Barry Bonds, and another was the slugger's personal trainer. A third was a track coach whose sprinters won gold medals, but then flunked drug tests.
Charges that the three helped run an illegal steroids distribution network could have serious repercussions in the sports world - even though no athlete has been indicted.
Dozens of athletes, from Bonds to Olympic track star Marion Jones to boxer Shane Mosley, appeared before a federal grand jury in November and December in San Francisco. Though offered limited immunity in exchange for their testimony, athletes still could face perjury charges if prosecutors believe they lied about drug use to the grand jury.
"We have not limited prosecution in this setting to those who are being prosecuted today," Attorney General John Ashcroft said, without providing further details.
In announcing the indictments Thursday, he said dozens of athletes from the NFL, Major League Baseball and track and field had taken the illegally distributed steroids and were, in some cases, given cover stories in case they were caught. "Nothing does more to diminish our potential - both as individuals and as a nation - than illegal drug abuse," Ashcroft said at a Washington news conference.
Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players' Association, said he was relieved no athlete was named but said the charges are a clear warning: "You would hope athletes would learn from this. It's illegal, and you can get in trouble for it, and they can't avoid seeing that."
The 42-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury charges Victor Conte, founder of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative in San Francisco; BALCO vice president James Valente; personal trainer Greg Anderson and sprint coach Remi Korchemny.
Bonds first went to BALCO and Conte for nutritional advice before the 2001 season, when he hit a record 73 homers. He has known Anderson since childhood and has trained with him for years. The 39-year-old Bonds, who repeatedly has denied steroid use, has credited Conte and Anderson with keeping him in top shape.
"I am saddened by the news of the indictment against my trainer and friend," Bonds said. "I don't know the state of the evidence, and it would be inappropriate to comment on this matter."
Korchemny's runners have enjoyed great success in the past year.
Kelli White became the first American woman to sweep the sprint titles at the World Championships last summer. Dwain Chambers of Britain is the European champion at 100 meters. Chryste Gaines, 33, ran the two fastest 100 times of her career last year. But all three flunked drug tests in 2003. White and Gaines tested positive for the stimulant modafinil, putting White's 100 and 200 world titles at risk. Chambers, who had been considered an Olympic gold-medal contender, faces a two-year ban for use of the newly unmasked steroid THG.
U.S. hurdler Chris Phillips, who tested positive for modafinil at the World Championships, said Korchemny gave him the pill to deal with jet lag.
Korchemny, 71, who recently was removed as a U.S. coach for the upcoming world indoor track and field championships in Budapest, has denied giving modafinil to White or Gaines. He answered the phone at his Castro Valley, Calif., home, saying he would not comment on the indictments.