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Chronology of a Scandal

A timeline of steroid abuses, Victor Conte, and the Barry Bonds trial.

Editor’s Note: The following timeline by Patch.com was compiled using court documents, grand jury testimony, transcripts from the House on Oversight and Governmental Reform hearings, arrest reports, Sen. George Mitchell’s report on steroid abuse in Major League Baseball, International Olympic Committee records, press releases, media reports from USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, Yahoo! Sports, and the Associated Press, and interviews with attorney Geoffrey Rapp.

On March 21, the Barry Bonds perjury trial commenced inside a San Francisco courthouse, as the legendary San Francisco Giant faced an 11-count indictment, 10 counts of false declarations, and one count of obstructing justice

The trial, nearly three years in the making, comes after a decade-long investigation by the IRS and the Anti-Doping Agency, which have already resulted in prison sentences for Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) creator Victor Conte and Bonds’ former trainer, Greg Anderson.

BALCO began as a small, nondescript company in Burlingame, by Conte, a San Mateo resident and former bass player for 1970s group Tower of Power.

The role Conte played in forever tarnishing professional sports with his distribution of illegal performance enhancing drugs has been documented by federal courts, Congress, and national media outlets alike.

His company will be remembered as an example of how easily sports league efforts to curb performance enhancing drug use can be evaded, said attorney Geoffrey Rapp, who serves as an editor for the Sports Law Blog.

“BALCO was successful because greed and the desire for fame and adulation drove players to seek what were at the time advantages they knew existing drug tests were unlikely to reveal,” Rapp said. “The science of drug testing will always lag a bit behind the science of drug-making and drug-masking.”

Today, Conte, having served a brief prison sentence, operates a new business out of San Carlos known as Scientific Nutrition for Advanced Conditioning. 

The trial resumes Monday morning with testimony from IRS Special Agent Mike Wilson, Bonds’ former trainer Sam Conte, and former girlfriend Kimberly Bell.

If convicted, Bonds could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

“BALCO reminds us that in sports law, like in most things, the cover-up is usually worse than the crime,” Rapp SAID.

“If Barry Bonds goes to jail, it won't be for doing steroids, HGH, and female fertility drugs, it will be for lying about it and for obstructing justice.”

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March 23, 2011 - The government’s first witnesses against Barry Bonds are called: IRS agent Jeff Novitzky, Larry Bowers of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and Steve Hoskins.

March 21, 2011 – Jury is selected for the Bonds trial, nearly three years in the making.

January 28, 2009 - Twenty federal agents raided the home of Anderson's mother-in-law, court records show. Anderson still refuses to testify against Bonds. He was jailed again last week for refusing to testify.

March 30, 2008 – Victor Conte begins publicizing that he will write a book titled “BALCO: The Straight Dope on Barry Bonds, Marion and What We Can Do To save Sports,” about his days as a steroid peddler, news that incurs slander claims from various sports stars including Marion Jones.

January 15, 2008 – Former Sen. George Mitchell, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and Executive Director of the MLB Player’s Association, Donald Fehr, are witnesses before the House Oversight and Governmental reform Committee in Washington, D.C.

 Dec 13, 2007 – Sen. George Mitchell writes a report titled: “REPORT TO THE COMMISSIONER OF BASEBALL OF AN INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION INTO THE ILLEGAL USE OF STEROIDS AND OTHER PERFORMANCE ENHANCING SUBSTANCES BY PLAYERS IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL.” The report is a detailed investigation of the rampant abuses of steroids and other drugs in Major League Baseball. The report is prompted by revelations of player involvement with the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative.

December 12, 2007 – Olympian Marion Jones is disqualified from the events participated in and must return diplomas. She was deemed permanently ineligible for all future Olympic Games in any capacity, pending the outcome of the BALCO investigation, according to International Olympic Committee Records.

Nov. 15, 2007: A federal grand jury indicts Bonds on four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice, court documents show.

May 2007 – Conte opens the Scientific Nutrition for Advanced Conditioning company, located in San Carlos, Calif. on Industrial Road.

Jan. 11, 2007: Reports show Bonds tested positive for amphetamines during the 2006 season.

Dec. 21, 2006: Yahoo! Sports says “Troy Ellerman, a defense attorney who had worked for Victor Conte and James Valente, is under investigation in the FBI's probe of leaked grand jury evidence.”

July 5, 2006 – Court records report Anderson was found in contempt of court by U.S. District Judge William Alsup after refusing to testify against Barry Bonds.

June 2006:  Victor Conte is revealed as a source for the San Francisco Chronicle’s reporting on steroids after emails are leaked in a court filing, records show.

March 30, 2006:  Victor Conte is released from prison; Commissioner Bud Selig appointed Sen. Mitchell to conduct an investigation “to determine, as a factual matter, whether any Major League players associated with [the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative] or otherwise used steroids or other illegal performance enhancing substances at any point after the substances were banned by the 2002-2006 collective bargaining agreement,” according to a press release issued on March 30 by the Major League Baseball Office of the Commissioner.

 March 16, 2006:  USA Today reports BALCO founder Victor Conte says he “never gave steroids to Barry Bonds” from a California prison.

2006 - 6,433 total tests resulted in 23 positives and 23 suspensions.

Oct. 18, 2005: BALCO founder Victor Conte is sentenced to four months in prison and four months of house arrest as part of a plea deal for supplying athletes with undetectable performance-enhancing drugs; BALCO's vice president, James Valente, receives probation after pleading guilty to reduced charges of steroid distribution. Greg Anderson, Barry Bonds' trainer, was sentenced to six months after pleading guilty to money laundering and a steroid distribution charge, according to court records.

July 15, 2005: Victor Conte and personal trainer Greg Anderson pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to distribute steroids. Conte receives four months in prison; Anderson receives six months in prison.

2005 - A total of 5,961 in-season tests resulted in 106 positive tests for performance enhancing substances and 106 player suspensions.

2005: During Congressional testimony, Don Hooton, whose son committed suicide after abusing anabolic steroids, created the Taylor Hooton Foundation for Fighting Steroid Abuse. In 2005 congressional testimony, Mr. Hooton said: “I believe the poor example being set by professional athletes is a major catalyst fueling the high usage of steroids amongst our kids. Our kids look up to these guys. They want to do the things the pros do to be successful.”

 August 2005: House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Transcripts report baseball player Raphael Palmeiro tested positive for Winstrol, a powerful steroid.

January 2005 - Drug program revised to add 17 substances as prohibited substances, including the addition of human growth hormone.

Dec. 15, 2004: Olympian Marion Jones files a $25 million slander and defamation lawsuit against Victor Conte after Conte told the media he had supplied Jones with performance-enhancing drugs.

Dec. 3, 2004: The San Francisco Chronicle says Bonds admitted to unknowingly using steroids known as "the clear" and "the cream" during the 2003 season.

October 2004 – “Congress passed the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004, which amended the definition of “anabolic steroid” under the Controlled Substances Act to include a number of supplements considered to be steroid precursors, including androstenedione.”

Sept. 24, 2004: David Segui of THE Baltimore Orioles, told his general manager, Jim Beattie, that he was going to go see a doctor in Florida to obtain human growth hormone, according to House Committee on Oversight and Control transcripts.

2004 – Commissioner Bud Selig and executive Vice-President for labor in the Commissioner’s Office Robert Manfred published an article in the Stanford Law and Policy Review “explaining the difficulties posed under baseball’s joint drug program (adopted effective as of Sept. 30, 2002) as a result of the lax regulation of supplements that were steroid precursors.”

Feb. 12, 2004: A grand jury indicted Anderson and other BALCO figures for their illegal steroid distribution. Anderson PLEADED guilty to these charges and admitted to distributing performance-enhancing drugs to professional athletes.

December 2003 - Bonds appears before a grand jury investigating the BALCO steroids case and is reported to have denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs.

Fall 2003: Many athletes testify before the BALCO grand jury. Among those testifying: track and field athletes Marion Jones, Kevin Toth, Regina Jacobs, Chryste Gaines and Tim Montgomery; baseball players Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield and Benito Santiago; football players Bill Romanowski and Barret Robbins; swimmer Amy Van Dyken; and boxer Shane Mosley.

Oct. 16, 2003:  A lab at UCLA findS that the substance THG was a steroid. BALCO's Conte is named as the source of the drug, the USADA said.

2004: After the survey testing results, use of detectable steroids seems to have slowed, but players switched to human growth hormone precisely because it is not detectable.

2004 - 4,801 total tests were conducted, resulting in 78 positive tests for “performance enhancing substances” and 78 suspensions for first time offenders.

Sept. 3, 2003: September 2003, the government raided BALCO and discovered evidence which it contends linked both trainer Greg Anderson (“Anderson”) and BALCO to numerous professional athletes, most notably, Barry Bonds.

September 2003 – Court records show BALCO’s offices were raided by federal law enforcement offices for search of illegal drug distribution. Conte blames Marion Jones’ ex-trainer Trevor Graham with supplying the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency with a syringe containing a banned performance-enhancing drug referred to as “The Clear.”

2003 – A total of 4,772 tests resulted in 173 positives for steroids (4% PERCENT of total tests); 20 players were suspended (without public notice).

2003: Between 5 and 7 percent of the major league players who participated in anonymous survey testing in 2003 tested positive for performance enhancing substances.

2003 - The IRS began to investigate BALCO, suspecting the company of first, distributing illegal performance enhancing drugs to athletes, and then, laundering the proceeds.

September 2002 - A bullpen catcher with the Montreal Expos was arrested for trying to send marijuana back to Florida with the Florida Marlins’ luggage. He later told Major League Baseball security officials that he had supplied drugs to nearly two dozen major league players, including eight players for whom he said he had procured steroids.

2002: Former National League Most Valuable Player Ken Caminiti estimated that “at least half” of major league players were using anabolic steroids, according to the Mitchell report.

2002 - There were 4,719 tests of minor league players, resulting in 227 positive tests for steroids and 20 players were suspended.

2002: Federal investigation of BALCO begins.

October 2001 - Officers with the Canadian Border Service discovered steroids, syringes, and other drugs in an unmarked bag that came from the entourage of a Cleveland Indians outfielder.

2001 – Court documents say the year he set the Major League Baseball single season home run record, Bonds also provided Anderson, along with other friends and associates, a “gift” of $20,000.

2001 - Two rounds of in-season testing were conducted on minor league players resulting in positive tests for steroids in 439 of 4,850 tests. Players who tested positive were not subject to discipline initially but instead were provided treatment and counseling, according to the Mitchell Report.

2001 - 8 percent of male high school seniors had used androstenedione within the prior year, just more than two years after Mark McGwire was found using the drug.

September 2000 - A clubhouse employee discovered a bottle of steroids and several hundred diet pills in a package that had been mailed to the ballpark for an Arizona Diamondbacks infielder.

June 2000 - State police in Boston discovered steroids and hypodermic needles in the glove compartment of a vehicle belonging to a Boston Red Sox infielder; the same month, a clubhouse attendant found a paper bag containing six vials of steroids and over two dozen syringes in the locker of a pitcher with the Florida Marlins.

August 1998 – The steroid Androstenedione is discovered in Mark McGwire's locker.

Mid-1980s - Victor Conte forms BALCO, the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative in Burlingame, Calif.

 1973 - A Congressional subcommittee announced that its staff had completed an “in depth study into the use of illegal and dangerous drugs in sports” including professional baseball. The subcommittee concluded that “the degree of improper drug use – primarily amphetamines and anabolic steroids – can only be described as alarming.

 1970 – In reaction to a perceived epidemic of drug abuse in the United States, Congress enacted the Controlled Substances Act, which among other things established criminal penalties for drug offenses.”

 1938 – “The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act has prohibited distribution of all prescription drugs except when a physician, based upon an individualized determination of a proper course of treatment, has authorized use of a drug by a patient under the physician’s supervision.”

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