A federal grand jury charged four people on Thursday linked to the top names in international sport with 42 counts of distributing illegal steroids and human growth hormones. Following a six-month probe behind closed doors of the global sport doping scandal, U.S. officials charged Victor Conte, owner of Burlingame, California-based BALCO Laboratories, his vice-president Jim Valente, famous track coach Remi Korchemny and Greg Anderson, a personal trainer to U.S. baseball legend Barry Bonds.
The four men are expected to appear in court on Friday.
“While operating BALCO, Conte and others conspired to distribute performance-enhancing drugs, including anabolic steroids, human growth hormone (HGH), erythropoietin (EPO), modafinil, and various other prescription drugs, to dozens of professional athletes,” the indictment said.
The indictment did not name the athletes involved in the scandal, but said they included professional baseball, football and track and field athletes who received the illegal drugs until the summer of last year.
Conte’s lawyer, Troy Ellerman, said he had expected the indictment.
“We plan on fighting the charges, but I mean I haven’t seen the indictment, so we’ll respond when we see it. It is not a big surprise, we knew it was coming down,” he said before the charges were announced.
Since late October, when the probe of BALCO began, dozens of high-profile athletes have testified before the grand jury, including Bonds of the San Francisco Giants, U.S. pro-football linebacker Bill Romanowski and five-time track-and-field Olympic medalist Marion Jones.
Conte, who has faced a number of lawsuits from suppliers and co-workers while at BALCO, has denied any links to steroids. The nutritional supplement firm has been accused of distributing the new designer anabolic steroid, THG, that has shown up in post-competition tests of numerous athletes.
Greg Anderson is the personal trainer for Bonds, who defended him in November and said he was unaware of Anderson having any involvement with banned drugs. Ukrainian-born Korchemny, who is based in California, coaches top sprinters Dwain Chambers of Britain and Americans Kelli White and Chryste Gaines. Chambers has tested positive for THG, while White and Gaines have tested positive for the stimulant modafinil. Korchemny was told last month he could not serve on the U.S. coaching staff at the world indoor championships next month in Budapest.
Korchemny, reached at home, told Reuters he had not heard about the impending indictment.
“I don’t know anything,” he said. “I was asleep and have not heard anything and don’t want to comment.”
The probe has involved the U.S. Justice Department, the Internal Revenue Service and the Food and Drug Administration, according to sources close to the probe. It has focused on possible tax evasion in connection with possible sale of illegal substances.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has fingered BALCO as the THG distributor after receiving a used syringe of the steroid from an anonymous track coach who cited BALCO as the source.
BALCO and Conte have for years touted the prestige of their customers to promote nutritional supplements.