SAN FRANCISCO -- Victor Conte, nutritional guru for Barry Bonds and founder of the lab at the center of a steroids probe,
jumped into a waiting sports car and sped away from the courthouse after pleading not guilty.
But the pace of the case against Conte and three other men will be much slower. An attorney for Conte said it could be a half-year before a trial begins.
Conte and the others pleaded not guilty Friday to distributing steroids to athletes and were ordered by federal Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James to post bond by Feb. 27 or face arrest.
One of Conte's attorneys, Robert Holley, said he expects it will be at least six months before the case comes to trial because
attorneys must review tens of thousands of pages of documents.
Holley said he was unsure whether athletes would be called to
testify at a trial.
Also charged are James Valente, vice president of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative that Conte founded; Greg Anderson, the personal trainer for Bonds; Remi Korchemny, the world-class track coach whose sprinters won gold medals but then flunked drug tests.
All four defendants refused comment Friday as they left the
courthouse following a short hearing and two hours of processing by
But their attorneys said it was outrageous that no athletes have
Dozens of athletes, ranging from Bonds to Olympic track star
Marion Jones to boxer Shane Mosley, appeared before a federal grand
jury in November and December. Though offered limited immunity in
exchange for their testimony, athletes still could face perjury
charges if prosecutors believe they lied about drug use to the
Troy Ellerman, who also represents Conte, ridiculed comments
made by Attorney General John Ashcroft, who announced the 42-count
indictment Thursday in Washington, that such prosecutions are
needed to preserve the integrity of sports.
"How do you preserve any of that if you don't go after the
athletes?" Ellerman asked outside the courthouse. "They haven't
been indicted and they're making all the money, and they're at the
top of the game."
Holley said Conte was not the source of steroids for athletes,
and was not the cause of drug problems in sports.
"It's like going after a fly with a bazooka, and there's a lot
of other flies around," Holley said. "Even if they take down
Conte, it won't change the system."
Ashcroft's announcement of the indictments came three weeks
after President Bush called in his State of the Union address for
U.S. sports leagues to adopt tougher anti-doping policies and for
athletes to set a better example for American youngsters.
Anderson's attorney, Bill Rapoport, said Bush's mention of
steroids and Ashcroft's news conference show the case has become
politicized and said it has tinges of "McCarthyism."
The four accused men sat together in the courtroom. During a
break, Conte and Korchemny had an animated conversation while
Valente and the barrel-chested Anderson sat silent and stone-faced.
All four must turn in their passports. Korchemny received
permission to take a weekend trip to New York, and Anderson asked
to be allowed to go to Arizona on Feb. 23-26, but refused to say
whether he'll be going to baseball's spring training.
The judge set bail at $100,000 for Conte, Valente and Korchemny,
and $25,000 for Anderson, then released them on their own
recognizance until at least Feb. 27, when they will return to show
they can post their bond.