SAN FRANCISCO — SAN FRANCISCO - Victor Conte Jr., the president of BALCO, said yesterday that he had never provided steroids to San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds.
"I want to inform the world I have never given anabolic steroids or any other performance-enhancing drug to Barry Bonds," Conte said during an impromptu news conference outside the federal courthouse. "In fact, I never had a discussion about anabolic steroids with Barry Bonds, and that's the truth."
Conte, one of four people indicted in February for conspiracy to distribute steroids in the BALCO case, was speaking in public for the first time since the indictment. He was responding to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle on Thursday that said the sprinter Tim Montgomery had testified to a grand jury that Conte had told Montgomery he had supplied Bonds with steroids.
"Anyone who says anything different than what I'm saying is not telling the truth," Conte said yesterday. But when Conte was asked if he had given steroids to Greg Anderson, Bonds' friend and trainer, who is a co-defendant in the BALCO case, Conte's lawyer, Robert Holley, intervened, saying Conte could not take any questions.
When federal agents raided Anderson's house in September, he initially denied distributing steroids, but he did acknowledge he had given them to several pro baseball players, according to a government affidavit.
Conte's brief remarks came immediately after a hearing on the BALCO case. Sweeping aside various motions before the court, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston ordered an investigation into whether the government leaked the grand jury testimony of Montgomery. Prosecutors and defense lawyers denied any involvement.
Illston also demanded that the men's defense attorneys and their clients also sign sworn declarations that they did not illegally release the transcripts to the Chronicle.
The testimony of several athletes, including Montgomery, has been sought by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which wants to ban cheating athletes from competing at the Olympics this summer in Athens, Greece. The agency has not been given any grand jury transcripts yet, a USADA spokesman said.
Calling the disclosure of grand jury testimony unethical and unfair to his client, Holley said: "I've been an attorney for 33 years and I have never experienced such behavior from anyone, let alone the U.S. attorney's office. I'm not saying it is the U.S. attorney's office. I don't know who it is."
In addition to Conte and Anderson, the other defendants in the case are the track coach Remi Korchemny and Balco's vice president, James Valente. All have pleaded not guilty.