SAN FRANCISCO: BALCO Laboratories founder Victor Conte, BALCO vice president James Valente and trainer Greg Anderson pleaded guilty to anabolic steroid charges in federal court here on Friday.
The trio were at the centre of the largest doping scandal in American sports history, one that has tainted Olympic athletics stars and Major League Baseball greats and prompted tough new laws and league penalties for doping cheats.
Conte and Anderson pleaded guilty to illegal drug distribution and money laundering charges. Valente pleaded guilty only to the distributing charge. Numerous other counts were dropped as a result of the guilty pleas.
Remy Korchemny, an athletics coach who was also indicted in the BALCO case, is seeking a plea bargain deal. His change of plea hearing is set for July 29.
The deals mean the scheduled September 6 trial will not happen, ending a potentially embarrassing session under oath for numerous athletes that might be called upon to testify.
Conte, who is not compelled to testify against others in any related cases, read a statement after emerging from court, saying he planned to “lead a positive life.”
“After I deal with the consequences, I would like to dedicate my life to helping young athletes to have a fair playing field in the future,” Conte said.
Actual sentencing is scheduled for October 18 before US Federal Court Judge Susan Illston here but the government recommended Conte receive four months in prison, four months of home detention and two years of supervised release.
Valente was recommended to receive only probation while Anderson, the personal trainer of San Francisco Giants star Barry Bonds, could receive six months in prison and probation in a sentence to be argued in court. – AFP