Lawyers for Victor Conte say he made no such admissions.
By Wire services
Published April 26, 2004
A government memorandum says that the founder of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative told federal investigators that he had provided steroids to a number of high-profile athletes, lawyers for Victor Conte, the lab's founder, acknowledged Sunday.
But the lawyers said that Conte had made no such admissions and that remarks attributed to him by the authorities were fabricated.
"Victor Conte adamantly denies giving up any names of any athletes, period," said Robert Holley, a lawyer for Conte, in a telephone interview with the New York Times.
Asked whether Conte admits or denies providing prohibited performance-enhancing substances to athletes, Holley declined to comment.
The existence of the memorandum was first reported Sunday by the San Jose Mercury News. The newspaper said that the document claims Conte volunteered the names of 27 athletes who had received steroids from BALCO, including Giants leftfielder Barry Bonds; Yankees stars Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield; Olympic sprint champion Marion Jones; and sprinter Tim Montgomery, who holds the world record for the 100-meter dash.
Those five were among the athletes who testified last fall before a federal grand jury in San Francisco investigating BALCO; all have denied using banned substances.
Conte and three other men have pleaded not guilty to federal charges of distributing steroids and laundering money.
"It's too bad that whoever in the government continues to leak this information is allowed to do it," Michael Rains, Bonds' attorney, told the Los Angeles Times. "It indicates to me that this isn't about trying to seek justice. ... They are still trying to sensationalize the case."
Bonds has denied taking steroids, as have the other athletes named in the reports. None of them has been charged.
Jones' lawyer, Joseph Burton, told the Associated Press on Sunday that the five-time medalist at the 2000 Sydney Olympics never received steroids from Conte and never had an endorsement deal of any kind with Conte or any of his businesses.
"Categorically, she didn't receive them, period," Burton said, calling reports about Jones and steroids "character assassination."
Burton said that leaks in the case, some apparently from the government, were outrageous. He said his client was left to "shadow box" against accusations that are inaccurate and not subject to cross-examination.
"It's like trying to disprove UFOs," Burton said.
The contested memorandum details an interview of Conte at BALCO after the lab in Burlingame, Calif., was raided last Sept. 3, Conte's lawyers said.
Conte was interviewed by Jeff Novitzky, an agent with the Internal Revenue Service, which is also involved in the case, and by an investigator from the San Mateo (Calif.) County Narcotics Task Force, the lawyers said.
Sunday, Conte's lawyers angrily attacked the memorandum. Holley called it "a total fabrication" and said the interview with Conte had not even been recorded on audiotape, leaving the authorities to put their own spin on what Conte said.
Troy Ellerman, another of Conte's lawyers, said investigators were "drunk with power" and were undermining Conte's ability to get a fair trial.
He accused government officials of leaking information to influence potential jurors and said, "If they had any confidence in the case, they'd keep quiet."
Ellerman said Conte was willing to take a lie-detector test to substantiate his assertion that he did not provide the names of any athletes to authorities.
Matthew J. Jacobs, an assistant U.S. attorney in San Francisco, said prosecutors would have no comment. A spokesman for the IRS did not return a call.
TIED TO BALCO
In a federal investigator's memorandum, 27 athletes allegedly received THG from Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative.