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Now Baseball May Get Tested

Times Staff Writer

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig on Thursday called again for more stringent drug testing at the major league level, hours after it was reported that New York Yankee first baseman Jason Giambi told a federal grand jury that he had used performance-enhancing drugs, and shortly before a second report detailing Barry Bonds’ testimony in the same steroid scandal.

In testimony a year ago before a panel investigating allegations of illegal steroid distribution, Giambi, a former American League most valuable player, said he had used human growth hormone in 2003 and taken steroids for at least three years, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Some of the drugs, Giambi said, were supplied by Greg Anderson, the personal trainer of Bonds, the San Francisco Giant slugger. Neither Giambi nor Anderson could be reached for comment Thursday.

According to today’s editions of the Chronicle, Bonds admitted to using two substances -- one he took orally, another he rubbed into his body -- obtained from Anderson, but claimed he did not believe they were steroids.

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In testimony taken Dec. 4, 2003, a week before Giambi sat before the same jury, Bonds was presented with documents prosecutors believed detailed his use of a handful of performance-enhancing drugs, according to the Chronicle, including human growth hormone and those known as “the cream” and “the clear.”

The report stated Bonds denied the charges. Bonds’ attorney, Michael Rains, told the newspaper, “My view has always been this case has been the U.S. vs. Bonds, and I think the government has moved in certain ways in a concerted effort to indict my client. And I think their failure to indict him has resulted in their attempts to smear him publicly.”

Giambi also previously denied allegations of steroid use. Anderson has denied providing illegal substances to anyone. Anderson and three other men associated with the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, known as BALCO, have pleaded not guilty to federal steroid distribution charges, and are awaiting trial.

Also Thursday, former world sprint champion Kelli White told The Times that she used illegal performance-enhancing drugs provided by BALCO owner Victor Conte, and ABC News released partial transcripts of an interview it had with Conte in which he claims he provided steroids and other banned substances to Olympic track and field star Marion Jones.

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After addressing business leaders in Washington, where baseball is backing a relocation of the Montreal Expos, Selig released a statement reacting to the Chronicle story about Giambi. It read, in part: “This once again demonstrates the need to implement a tougher and more effective Major League drug-testing program. I have instructed Rob Manfred, executive vice president of labor relations, to look into this situation and to continue working with the Major League Baseball Players Assn. to have a drug-testing program that mirrors the very effective policy we currently have in the minor leagues. I will leave no stone unturned in accomplishing our goal of zero tolerance by the start of spring training and am confident we will achieve this goal.”

Amid speculation they might try to void or buy out Giambi’s contract -- he has five years and $84.5 million remaining on a seven-year, $120-million deal signed after the 2001 season -- Yankee officials met Thursday in New York with baseball representatives. Major League Baseball might seek to discipline Giambi, whose alleged drug use occurred since the league outlawed steroids in 2003.

Selig told reporters in Washington that he hoped to have the minor league program instituted at the major league level by spring training. In a plan established four years ago, minor leaguers are tested in and out of season four times for prohibited substances. A player testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs is suspended for 15 games, a second positive brings a 30-game suspension, a third 60 games, and a fourth incurs a year suspension. The player is banned for life on the fifth positive test.

Human growth hormone is not specifically banned by the major leagues.

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Major League Baseball and the players’ union have been unable to agree to revisions of the original policy, though discussions are continuing. According to one baseball official, the quarrel lies primarily among the leaders of the union.

Steve Greenberg, deputy to former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent and once a player agent, said, “I would agree with the commissioner that this is just unacceptable.... The problem is, the perception among a great many fans and people is the process that was agreed upon in the current collective-bargaining agreement was inadequate and doesn’t really address the issue.”

Giambi was among about 25 athletes who were called to testify in the federal government’s investigation of BALCO. Along with human growth hormone and testosterone, Giambi told jurors that he’d also used other designer steroids, known as “the clear” and “the cream,” that he had been told were undetectable in testing, the Chronicle reported. He also testified that he’d ingested pills designed to maximize the drugs’ effects or mask them. The injections, he said, were made in his stomach and buttocks.

Giambi’s brother, Jeremy, a former major leaguer who played 11 games last season for the Dodgers’ triple-A team, told the grand jury that he too had used steroids supplied by trainer Anderson, according to the report.

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Jason Giambi told the grand jury he was drawn to Anderson because of his relationship to Bonds, who last month won his seventh MVP award. Asked in the hearing whether Anderson provided him with the testosterone, Giambi said, “Yes.”

Several of baseball’s high-profile power hitters have admitted or been linked to performance-enhancing drugs or investigations of them, revelations that for many confirmed suspicions of wide usage in the game.

In the same week in June 2002, Jose Canseco, the AL MVP in 1988, and Ken Caminiti, National League MVP in 1996, admitted using steroids during their careers. Canseco estimated that 85% of major leaguers also took the illegal substances; Caminiti claimed the number was closer to 50%.

In October, Yankee outfielder Gary Sheffield told Sports Illustrated he’d unknowingly taken steroids supplied by Anderson before and during the 2002 season. Last month, the Chronicle reported that it obtained a tape recording, on which Anderson was said to have claimed Bonds used performance-enhancing drugs in 2003.

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In March, the newspaper reported that Bonds, Sheffield, Giambi and other major leaguers were given steroids by BALCO representatives. All three of the players had been called to testify before the grand jury.

Giambi’s testimony is the first to surface, extending the most tumultuous year of his career.

Giambi, 33, played in only 80 games for the Yankees, and not at all in the postseason. Arriving to spring training visibly thinner and less muscled, he faced questions about past steroid use, and whether baseball’s new testing policies had caused him to cycle off the drugs, and therefore lose weight. He denied ever using steroids. He then contracted a parasite that sapped his strength, and later was diagnosed with a benign tumor reportedly in his pituitary gland.

After hitting 163 home runs in his previous four seasons, Giambi hit 12 and batted .208 in 2004, then watched as the Yankees lost to the Boston Red Sox in the AL championship series.

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The details of Giambi’s testimony tore through baseball Thursday, bringing more substance to long-running rumors that some of the game’s top performers were illegally aided.

“It can be the turning point,” said Eric Karros, who played 14 seasons with the Dodgers, Chicago Cubs and Oakland A’s. “This isn’t something that’s new. There’s always been suspicions. Because the commissioner has made such a strong stance on it, maybe now it’ll be addressed more vigorously.”

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

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True confessions?

After more than a year of grand jury hearings, indictments, suspensions, rumors and denials, the BALCO doping case reached new heights this week, affecting four major figures:

VICTOR CONTE

* The denial: “I don’t condone the use of anabolic steroids or growth hormone.” -- Conte, in a 1998 interview with Testosterone Magazine.

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* As of today: In “20/20" interview today, he says he gave Marion Jones a variety of illegal drugs and supplied steroids to Greg Anderson, the personal trainer to slugger Barry Bonds.

MARION JONES

* The denial: “I’m probably one of the most tested athletes in the world ... and I’ve never, ever tested positive for any steroid or any drug.” -- Jones, on May 13, 2004.

* As of today: Conte tells “20/20" that he showed Jones how to inject herself with human growth hormone. He says she did so in the “front part of her leg.”

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JASON GIAMBI

* The denial: “I’m not worried about it. I didn’t do anything wrong.” -- Giambi, on Oct 20, 2003, after being ordered to testify to a grand injury in the BALCO case.

* As of today: According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Giambi told the grand jury that he injected human growth hormone in 2003 and started using steroids at least two years earlier.

KELLI WHITE

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* The denial: “I ... have been diagnosed with [narcolepsy].” -- White, on Aug. 30, 2003, after testing positive for a stimulant at track’s world championships in Paris.

* As of today: Said Thursday she got from Conte in March 2003 the blood-booster EPO, the designer steroid THG and a testosterone-based cream. Said the narcolepsy story was a lie.

Los Angeles Times

*

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

A BALCO Timeline

* June 2003 -- The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency received a report from a man identifying himself as a track coach that an undetectable steroid was being used by a number of athletes. He provided the agency with a syringe containing the alleged steroid, claiming the drug had been provided by Victor Conte, whose Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative, or BALCO, had ties to world-class athletes. More than a year later at the Athens Olympics, Trevor Graham, coach of 100-meter dash gold-medal winner Justin Gatlin, said he prompted the investigation.

* August 2003 -- Don Catlin and his team of scientists at the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory confirmed that the substance was a previously unknown steroid, tetrahydrogestrinone, or THG.

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* Sept. 3, 2003 -- Agents from the IRS Criminal Investigations Unit and the San Mateo County Narcotic Task Force raided BALCO’s office in Burlingame, Calif., and took containers labeled as steroids and human growth hormones.

* Sept. 5, 2003 -- Agents searched the Burlingame home of Greg Anderson, a childhood friend of and personal trainer to San Francisco Giant slugger Barry Bonds, seizing substances suspected to be steroids and documents regarding their use.

* Oct. 16, 2003 -- The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced the discovery of THG and its widespread use among athletes, and that it had authorized retesting of 550 urine samples. Terry Madden, chief executive of the USADA, referred to the use of THG as a “conspiracy involving chemists, coaches and certain athletes ... to defraud their fellow competitors and the American and world public.”

* Oct. 17, 2003 -- Conte said he had been told by athletes that they were among 40 who had been subpoenaed to testify before a San Francisco grand jury investigating BALCO. Three days later, Jason Giambi, a New York Yankee first baseman and 2000 American League most valuable player, said he was on that list.

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* Oct. 22, 2003 -- Four unnamed U.S. track and field athletes and Britain’s Dwain Chambers were revealed to have tested positive for THG.

* Oct. 30, 2003 -- Regina Jacobs, a 1,500-meter runner, and shotputter Kevin Toth, were among the first group of athletes to testify to the San Francisco grand jury.

* Nov. 6, 2003 -- Tim Montgomery, the world-record holder in the 100-meter dash, testified before the grand jury.

* Nov. 13, 2003 -- Major League Baseball announced that more than 5% of random tests conducted on players during the 2003 season turned up positive for steroid use, a high enough total to trigger a stricter testing regimen for 2004.

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* Nov. 16, 2003 -- Four Oakland Raiders were notified by the NFL that they had tested positive for THG, according to a report.

* Dec. 4, 2003 -- Bonds spent 5 1/2 hours testifying before the grand jury.

* Feb. 12, 2004 -- Federal prosecutors announced charges against four men accused of conspiring to distribute performance-enhancing drugs, including Conte and Anderson. All pleaded not guilty the next day.

* Feb. 17, 2004 -- Documents released revealed that Anderson told federal agents he gave steroids to several baseball players.

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* Feb 24, 2004 -- Chambers, the British sprinter, received a lifetime ban from the Olympics and a two-year suspension from competition by the British track and field federation, after testing positive for THG.

* Feb. 27, 2004 -- J. Tony Serra, Anderson’s attorney, said Bonds declined Anderson’s offer of performance-enhancing drugs.

* March 10, 2004 -- Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the chairman of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, called for action in regard to a “doping epidemic” at a committee hearing, which was marked by sharp attacks against Major League Baseball’s drug-testing policies. A month later, the Senate passed a resolution encouraging major league owners and the players’ union to adopt a more stringent policy on steroid testing.

* April 24, 2004 -- A report cited Conte as having told federal agents he gave steroids to Montgomery and his wife, Olympic champion Marion Jones.

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* April 29, 2004 -- Hammer throwers Melissa Price and John McEwen were banned from competition for two years after testing positive for THG.

* May 6, 2004 -- The U.S. Senate announced it would turn over to anti-doping authorities materials its Commerce Committee had received as part of the probe of BALCO.

* May 16, 2004 -- Jones threatened a lawsuit against the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency if it acted in preventing her from competing in the Athens Olympics.

* May 19, 2004 -- Kelli White, the world champion in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, admitted using performance-enhancing drugs and accepted a two-year suspension.

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* June 8, 2004 -- The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency began proceedings against sprinters Montgomery, Alvin Harrison, Chryste Gaines and Michelle Collins, alleging “potential” doping violations.

* June 24, 2004 -- Reports cited Montgomery’s grand-jury testimony as admitting he used banned steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs received from Conte.

* July 6, 2004 -- USA Track & Field announced it would not seek suspensions before the U.S. Olympic trials against any of the six U.S. athletes facing doping charges. Craig Masback, the USATF’s chief executive, said he did not believe the organization had the legal right to provisional suspensions.

* July 17, 2004 -- Jacobs accepted a four-year ban after testing positive for THG, although she had already retired.

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* July 22, 2004 -- C.J. Hunter, Jones’ former husband, told federal agents she used performance-enhancing drugs during the time she won five medals at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, according to a report. Jones’ attorney dismissed the allegations.

* Oct. 5, 2004 -- Yankee Gary Sheffield said he unknowingly used an illegal testosterone-based cream provided by BALCO.

* Oct. 19, 2004 -- Harrison accepted a four-year suspension for doping violations.

* Dec. 2, 2004 -- Giambi testified that he had used steroids, according to a grand jury transcript reviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle. Meanwhile, Conte told the ABC News show “20/20" that he had seen Jones inject herself in the leg with human growth hormone, a charge Jones’ attorneys denied.

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