Lawyers dispute allegations via e-mail

SAN FRANCISCO -- The man at the center of an international steroid scandal denied via e-mail on Friday that he had admitted to supplying top athletes with steroids or providing investigators with specific names.

Victor Conte, head of BALCO labs south of San Francisco, is one of four people indicted by a U.S. federal grand jury earlier this year on steroid distribution charges. Also charged was another BALCO executive and Greg Anderson, personal trainer to baseball slugger Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants. No charges have been brought against Bonds.

A September 2003 government affidavit said Conte told agents searching his home and firm about distributing steroids to Anderson and to professional athletes.

"Conte voluntarily agreed to speak with agents and provided a complete statement regarding his involvement in knowingly illegally distributing steroids to numerous athletes in violation of federal law," said the September affidavit signed by Internal Revenue Service agent Brian Watson.

"In the course of his statement, Conte acknowledged that he knew Greg Anderson and stated that he gave Greg Anderson steroids to give to professional baseball players," it said.

However, in a statement sent from one of Conte's e-mail addresses and signed by his lawyers, Conte denied giving such details to investigators. Conte has declined to speak in public about the case.

"Mr. Conte adamantly denies any discussion with any agent concerning the steroid use of any specific track-and-field athlete or baseball player," the statement signed by lawyers Robert Holley and Troy Ellerman said.

"It is Mr. Conte's adamant contention that he told the agents that he had no knowledge of Anderson's relationships with any specific baseball players regarding steroids."

The statement also criticized an article in the May edition of Playboy Magazine interviewing an undercover agent who helped investigate the BALCO case.

"Unfortunately, the article, at least as it relates to Victor Conte and BALCO Laboratories, is fraught with innuendo and misinformation which is damaging to Mr. Conte's personal reputation," the lawyers wrote.

Conte, BALCO vice president James Valente, Anderson and former Soviet track and field coach Remi Korchemny have pleaded not guilty to the steroid distribution charges.