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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 July, 2005, 02:11 GMT 03:11 UK
Balco chiefs admit steroids guilt
By David Willis
BBC California correspondent

Victor Conte, president of Balco
The move by Conte and his colleagues avoids an embarrassing trial
Three men have pleaded guilty before a San Francisco court to distributing performance enhancing steroids to some of the world's top athletes.

Victor Conte, who founded the company Balco, also known as the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative, reached a plea agreement with prosecutors.

So too did Vice-President James Valente and sports trainer Greg Anderson.

All three are due to be sentenced later in the year for their part in what was the largest ever US doping scandal.

A fourth man accused in the case, track coach Remi Korchemny, has not yet agreed a plea, and is due to return to court later this month.

Achievements undermined

The men were accused of supplying performance enhancing drugs to more than 30 of the biggest names in athletics, baseball, and American football.

Greg Anderson is the personal trainer of major league baseball player Barry Bonds.

Prosecutors have agreed to drop dozens of charges against the three men in return for their pleading guilty to conspiring to distribute steroids, and, in the case of Conte and Anderson, money laundering.

The decision means that the case now will not be brought to trial, sparing athletes such as former Olympic gold medallist, Marion Jones, and one-time 100-metre record holder Tim Montgomery from possibly having to testify in court about the use of drugs in sport.

The Balco scandal broke almost two years ago when federal agents raided Conte's offices, searching for the source of a new and previously undetectable steroid, know as THG.

That inquiry led to the suspension of more than a dozen top athletes and widespread concern about rampant use of steroids in America's national game, baseball.

It raised questions about what had previously been regarded as remarkable sporting achievements, such as home-run records by particularly muscular players.




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