Stubblefield cooperating in feds' probe

Dana Stubblefield, a four-time Pro Bowl lineman who spent 11 seasons in the NFL, has been providing information to federal authorities and the league regarding steroid use and distribution in the sport, according to a government filing.

Stubblefield, who last played in 2003, was sentenced in federal court Friday to two years' probation for lying to investigators during testimony in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative steroids case. A former defensive lineman for the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders and Washington Redskins, he pleaded guilty last year to lying about his use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs and avoided jail time in part for his cooperation in the investigation.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston said the sentence was warranted because Stubblefield was "extremely cooperative" with investigators after he was charged in January 2008. She also fined the 1997 defensive player of the year $5,000.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello declined comment to The Associated Press. Stubblefield declined the judge's invitation to say something before he was sentenced, and didn't comment outside court.

In a sentencing memorandum filed Thursday, the government wrote that as part of his plea deal, Stubblefield had provided "the names of players, trainers, and others associated with the NFL who may be involved in ongoing activities with illegal drugs in professional football."

Neither the NFL nor the NFL Players Association would comment when reached Friday.

The NFL has interviewed Stubblefield, according to the filing, and has followed up on information he provided. Stubblefield also has remained available both to authorities and the league.

The government wrote that Stubblefield had "agreed to discuss his observations of illegal drug use in the National Football League, and provided a description of his knowledge regarding the distribution and use of illegal steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs in the National Football League."

No names were released in the document, which the government had hoped to file under seal.

Several previous sentencing hearings had been delayed because authorities cited Stubblefield's cooperation in ongoing investigations, but it was unclear what information he was providing.

Stubblefield, 38, was one of eight NFL players who testified in the BALCO steroid investigation, and he was one of four who tested positive for the previously undetectable steroid, THG, also known as "the clear." The government also indicated he was using the oxygen-boosting drug EPO.

Still, the NFL has remained largely untouched by the BALCO scandal, with the focus instead primarily on baseball and Olympic track and field.

Barry Bonds, major league baseball's home run king, is scheduled to go to trial March 2 on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice stemming from his testimony in the BALCO case.

Mark Fainaru-Wada and T.J. Quinn are investigative reporters for ESPN's enterprise team. Fainaru-Wada can be reached at markfwespn@gmail.com. Quinn can be reached at tjquinn31@yahoo.com. Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.