San Francisco, CA (Sports Network) - The four men charged with distributing illegal drugs, including steroids and human growth hormones, to star athletes pleaded innocent Friday to federal charges.
Barry Bonds' personal trainer, a track coach and a pair of Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) executives were charged Thursday with distributing anabolic steroids to dozens of athletes, including elite track and field competitors, Major League Baseball players and National Football League players.
The San Francisco Giants slugger, who testified before a grand jury back in December, was not charged or named in any of the court documents. None of the athletes involved were named in the indictments.
Those pinpointed in the 42-count indictments included Bonds' personal trainer Greg F. Anderson, BALCO president and CEO Victor Conte Jr., BALCO vice president James J. Valente and track and field coach Remi Korchemny.
During a hearing on Friday, all four men pleaded innocent before Federal Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James. They were released, pending a February 27 hearing that will set bail.
The scheme allegedly took place between December 2001 and September 2003, with the defendants conspiring to defraud the United States through the distribution of illegal drugs. The men allegedly distributed the steroids through the form of a testosterone-based cream, mixing the testosterone with the cream to intentionally conceal the effects of such a contraband.
They also distributed a liquid drug called tetrahydragestrinone (THG), a designer steroid. Human growth hormones were also given out unlawfully to athletes to improve their performance.
These charges could prove devastating to Bonds, who has put together one of the best four-year spans in baseball history over the last four seasons, including a record-shattering 2001 campaign.
During that season, Bonds hit an unprecedented 73 home runs. He has hit over 40 homers each of the last four seasons, while also posting an on-base percentage of over .500 for each of the past three years.
Three Oakland Raiders' players tested positive for THG last year, and former Raider Bill Romanowski has been linked to BALCO. Several track and field stars have also been associated with the lab.