BALCO founder enters guilty steroid plea

July 15, 2005 at 5:57 PM

SAN FRANCISCO, July 15 (UPI) -- A central figure in a steroids scandal involving big-name athletes pleaded guilty Friday to a single count of distributing steroids and laundering money.

The plea by Victor Conte, founder of Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, makes it less likely that former BALCO clients will be forced to testify in the federal investigation into steroid use, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Conte, one of several people appearing in court Friday before U.S. District Judge Susan Illston, was accused of supplying performance-enhancing drugs to dozens of elite athletes -- possibly including former BALCO clients San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi of the New York Yankees.

Greg Anderson, longtime personal trainer for Bonds, pleaded guilty to the same charges as Conte. Anderson is expected to be sentenced to six months in prison.

BALCO Vice President James Valente pleaded guilty to a single count of distributing illegal steroids. Track coach Remi Korchemny had not yet accepted a plea agreement late Friday.

Conte faces up to 20 years in prison for money laundering. Prosecutors were expected to ask for a sentence of four months imprisonment and four months home detention.

Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 18.

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