The attorney for Victor Conte yesterday accused sprinter Tim Montgomery of lying in his alleged grand jury testimony in the federal case involving the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) but said the public charges raised against Conte in the leaked testimony were so damaging as to prevent him from getting a fair trial.
Montgomery, the world record holder in the 100 meters, told a federal grand jury last fall that Conte, the BALCO owner, gave him human growth hormone, a steroid-like substance known as the "clear," and the prescription drug Clomid to mask the presence of banned drugs for eight months ending in the summer of 2001, according to a report in Thursday's editions of the San Francisco Chronicle.
"It prejudices our case to a degree I can't believe he could get a fair trial," said Robert Holley, Conte's attorney. "There will be motions made for the dismissal [of the case]. I don't know where the leak came from . . . all we know is, it didn't come from the defense."
Besides the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Northern District of California, witness testimony has been made available only to the attorneys for the defendants in the BALCO case: Conte, his business partner James Valente, track coach Remi Korchemny and Greg Anderson, the trainer for Barry Bonds, all of whom have been indicted on federal steroid charges.
Kevin Ryan, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, said his office was "looking into the matter."
"The Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney's Office take seriously any potential violation of grand jury confidentiality rules as well as any alleged violation of the court's protective orders under which discovery may have been provided to defendants," Ryan said in a statement.
Montgomery also told the grand jury Conte told him he gave baseball slugger Barry Bonds the steroid Winstrol, the newspaper reported.
"The statements about . . . Conte having provided Winstrol to Barry Bonds are not true," Holley said. "He has never provided any steroids or anything that could be considered a performance-enhancing drug to Barry Bonds, and he has never seen Barry Bonds take anything. That is an absolute fabrication."
Bonds reacted angrily when asked about the story Thursday by an Associated Press reporter, unleashing a flurry of expletives.
"I ain't never met Tim Montgomery. I don't know Tim Montgomery. I've never seen the dude in my life," Bonds said before the Giants' game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. "I don't even know what the guy does."
According to the Chronicle, Montgomery also explained some abbreviations Conte used for drugs, saying "C" meant "the clear," "E" meant "EPO," "I" meant "insulin," and "G" meant "growth hormone."
Montgomery said Conte used the fake name "Vince Reed" when he sent him banned drugs in the mail, the paper reported. He also said he did not pay for the products, receiving them in exchange for his support of the legal nutritional supplement ZMA.
Montgomery's attorney, Cristina Arguedas, declined to comment, other than to say in a statement: "No one can legally or legitimately have Tim's grand jury testimony, and if they think they have it, I would like to see it. Otherwise, there's no way I can respond to these blind allegations, and I'm not going to comment on it."
Montgomery also alleged that his former coach, Trevor Graham, was involved in the distribution of banned drugs in his grand jury testimony, the Chronicle reported. Montgomery said Graham offered him steroids and human growth hormone, and that Graham obtained banned drugs from a connection in Laredo, Tex., the newspaper reported.
Graham's lawyer, Joseph E. Zeszotarski Jr., said in a statement that his client was cooperating with the government and was not a target of any investigation. He called Montgomery's statements "false accusations" and attributed them to a bitter ending of a coaching relationship between Montgomery and Graham.
Zeszotarski said Graham cut ties with Montgomery after his refusal to end his association with Conte and Charlie Francis, the former coach of Ben Johnson, who tested positive for steroids at the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul.
"The accusations reported to be made by Mr. Montgomery in his grand jury testimony are false and baseless," Zeszotarski said. "Trevor Graham has never distributed steroids or any illicit substance to anyone, and is in no way involved in any such matters. Trevor has told the Government this fact, and has truthfully answered all of the Government's questions. . . . Mr. Montgomery's false accusations regarding Trevor are refuted by, and inconsistent with, all of the other facts in this matter."
Montgomery said he warned sprint star Marion Jones, the mother of Montgomery's infant son who was once coached by Graham, about Graham's reputation and that she demanded that Graham provide her a list of all of the substances he had been giving her, saying she would take nothing further if it weren't identified, according to the report.
Montgomery was not asked whether Jones had taken banned drugs, the newspaper said. Jones has repeatedly denied having ever taken improper drugs.
Holley, who sent President Bush a letter asking for his intervention in Conte's plea bargain negotiations last week, said talks with the U.S. Attorney's Office had collapsed again this week and that it appeared that a trial was unavoidable.
"My only comment with the Department of Justice is that their offer to Victor Conte has gotten worse, not better," Holley said. "I felt, in the letter to the president, my offer was more than reasonable under the circumstances. . . . It makes me sad they do not want to go along with it. . . . The defense and prosecution are so far apart we're preparing for trial.
"It doesn't look like the administration is interested in settling the case prior to trial."