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Tuesday 30, Dec 2008

  Did the government commit an illegal act during the BALCO steroid investigation?

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balco-steroidsAn AP report focuses on the high-tech side of the most massive doping scandal in the United States referred to as the BALCO Affair.

There is an ongoing legal dilemma amongst federal judges relating to the seizure of urine samples of more than 100 major league players not originally involved in the BALCO steroid investigation.

The battle is now at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in which an 11-member panel must decide whether prosecutors had the legal right to seize the names and urine samples of the 104 players during a raid carried out in 2004.

“There has to be limits when the government seizes vast amount of information on a computer,” Major League Baseball Players Association lawyer Elliot Peters said.

The federal agents who took the material from the Long Beach-based Comprehensive Drug Testing Inc. had a search warrant for the test results of just 10 players, but discovered on a computer spreadsheet the test results of additional players.

The players’ association went to court, and lower-court judges ruled the additional names were seized illegally. A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit reversed those decisions twice in 2-1 votes, but the entire 9th Circuit set the reversal aside and decided to hear the case en banc.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Wilson argued Thursday the government had a legal right to investigate all of the players who tested positive because their names and test results were on a single document containing the names of the 10 players listed in the search warrant. Wilson said since the government was entitled to 10 players’ test results, it was entitled to the entire spreadsheet.

Wilson’s argument was attacked early and often by at least six judges, who expressed doubt that a computer spreadsheet is analogous to a paper document, which investigators have a right to seize so long as it contains evidence listed in the search warrant.

“When you are talking about computers, a single document can contain vast amounts of information,” Judge Kim Wardlaw said.
Judge Mylan Smith was even more pointed, complaining that allowing the government on narrowly focused investigations to seize computer databases, hard drives and spreadsheets containing large amounts of information “would probably be frightening to the public because there’s no end to it.”

The BALCO Affair has involved several famous athletes and has resulted to congressional hearings and independent investigations. Most prominent of these investigations is the Mitchell Report, which has probed the use of steroids in the Major League Baseball.

Several personalities were prosecuted and jailed because of their involvement in said scandal including BALCO’s founder Victor Conte, chemist Patrick Arnold who designed “the clear”, containing testosterone, an anabolic steroid, and track athlete Marion Jones.

Tuesday 15, Jul 2008

  Thomas avoided the steroid lane and “went the extra mile” for his career records

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Frank-Thomas-steroidsYou could say Frank Thomas has survived the pressure of the game and refused to join in the bandwagon, so to speak.
He proudly spoke of his achievements in a steroid-tarnished sport as he returned to Chicago Thursday.

“We all know that things went on, and that’s the way it was,” said Thomas, whose career boasts of seven White Sox franchise batting records. “I’m not going to kick and scream about it. I had a great career. I’m proud of my career. I’m proud to do it cleanly. I’m proud to be one of the guys who went the extra mile to work, and things worked out for me.

“Coming back here is always great because I can see these guys and remember what I did and who I am every time I walk into this ballpark.”

Thomas hopes for a comeback to Oakland’s lineup after the All-Star break. And despite his recent quadriceps injury, he is sure he can play through 2009.

“I don’t feel 40, but the legs are starting to feel 40,” said Thomas, who was batting .319 with four home runs and 16 RBIs in 28 games for Oakland before getting hurt. “I don’t feel like I lost anything before I got hurt.”

Major League Baseball has been hit by scandals regarding rampant use of anabolic steroids by its players. Stemming from the BALCO steroid scandal in 2003, several popular MLB players have been implicated during the federal investigation including Jason Giambi, Barry Bonds, and Gary Sheffield.

The so-called BALCO Affair exploded in June 2003, when sprint coach Trevor Graham had made an anonymous call to the US Anti-Doping Agency regarding a designer steroid creatively called The Clear apparently used by a number of athletes. The Clear, which was later identified as tetrahydrogestrinone (THG), is a performance-enhancing steroid developed by BALCO’s chemist Patrick Arnold.

Saturday 12, Jul 2008

  Greek weightlifting team to compete in Beijing despite steroid scandal

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greece-steroidsThe International Weightlifting Federation has announced that the Greek team is allowed to compete at the Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. This in the light of the recent suspension of 11 members of the 14-man national team due to steroid use.

The 11 athletes tested positive for the steroid methyltrienolone during a March out-of-competition test in Athens. The results were made public in April. All the 11 unnamed athletes have been suspended for two years.

The IWF said that the country could send representatives in the sport – three men and a woman – to the Olympics in August. The decision was reached by its board.

In addition, IWF said the Greek weightlifting federation has since been fined reportedly in the amount of 250,000 euros (C$395,000).
In May, a Greek prosecutor filed misdemeanour charges against the 11 athletes, Olympic weightlifting coach Christos Iakovou and 13 others.

Iakovou, 60, is one of Greece’s most notable coaches. Through his coaching abilities, the country has won 12 Olympic medals, which include five gold. He is in suspension since the steroid scandal hit headlines.

The coach denied that he provided his athletes with the steroid, blaming a faulty batch of Chinese diet supplements.

Ten of the 11 accused athletes have supported their coach’s claim. A female athlete, on the other hand, plans to take the legal course against anyone found guilty for giving her steroids, allegedly with her in the dark.

This is not the first case wherein this steroid has figured in a doping scandal. At the height of the above steroid controversy, an English-language newspaper in Greece has reported that methyltrienolone killed 200 bodybuilders back in the 1960s. This claim, however, has been considered “preposterous” and “ludicrous” by many steroid experts.

Methlytrienolone is one of the most potent steroids around. Patrick Arnold, the now infamous BALCO chemist, has confirmed that a number of athletes used this steroid during the 1990s and dodged detection. According to Arnold, this is because methyltrienolone can provide impressive performance enhancing effects even in minute quantities.

Monday 26, May 2008

  Sprinter in Steroids Scandal Plans to Challenge Ban

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Dwain_Chambers_steroidsThose who repent will see the light. In Dwain Chamber’s case, it seems like he’s very particular with the kind of light he wants to see – the Olympic torch’s light. The repentant British sprinter also has plans to resort to legal action to challenge his lifetime Olympic ban so that he can be eligible to run again at the Beijing Olympics.

Chambers was awarded a two-year ban due to his use of performance-enhancing drugs. He was tested positive for the designer drug tetrahydrogestrinone, known also as THG or ‘The Clear’. However, in a letter written by Victor Conte, it was apparent that Chambers was not only using The Clear, but several other substances. (Chambers decided to buy steroids from BALCO at some point)
According to the letter, the sprinter was also using human growth hormone, the blood-boosting drug EPO, a testosterone/epitestosterone cream, modafinil (a drug that combats tiredness), insulin, and liothryonine, a synthetic thyroid hormone. Conte was the founder and owner of the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative or BALCO. BALCO is a California-based firm, which was reportedly the source of anabolic steroids used by numerous professional athletes. In 2003, this illegal activity was exposed resulting to what media referred as the BALCO Affair.

Conte’s letter was handed over to UK Sport’s anti-doping chief John Scott on Friday in a repentant move that Chambers hopes will help demonstrate that he’s letting everything out in the open. Further, he wants the sporting world to see that he is serious in cleaning up his act. The details of Chambers meeting with Scott have not been divulged.

Regarding the sprinter’s move to challenge the ban, his lawyer said in a statement: “We can confirm that Dwain Chambers will be taking proceedings to secure his eligibility/participation in the Olympic and National trials in Birmingham from 11-13 July.”

Chambers is just one of the several popular professional athletes who have been implicated with steroids use. Several personalities involved in said case have been in legal quagmire including sprinter Marion James and cyclist Tammy Thomas. BALCO’s now infamous organic chemist, Patrick Arnold, has already served his three-month sentence in West Virginia. Conte has also spent four months in jail for selling steroids.

Monday 07, Apr 2008

  Patrick Arnold made little money from Steorid sales

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patrick arnold steroidsIt seems that steroids produced via BALCO and Patrick Arnold netted him very little money, unlike the millions made by the NFL and MLB stars who took it.

A key witness in cyclist Tammy Thomas’s doping trial testified Wednesday that an illicit steroid lab in Illinois made little money because the potent performance-enhancers could be bought and taken in such small quantities.

The problem is that these steroids are extremely potent and need to be watered down. Tetrahydrogestrinone (THG) is extremely potent and is usually provided in small vials which can last up to six months, making the revenue stream from these steroid sales non existant.

Holding her thumb and forefinger three inches apart to represent a small vial, Dalton said such a container would fetch $10-$20. “Marion Jones split it with C.J. Hunter and it lasted six months,” Dalton said, referring to the track and field stars later disgraced for doping.

The sums of money Arnold was making were “very low,” she said. “I think we should have charged more.”

This whole steroids in baseball investigatio, BALCO and Patrick Arnold, the millions of US taxpayer dollars spent and the thousands of man hours spent, are for this? An estimated $15,000 USD in revenue over 3 years! this is what all the steroid probes are about? you do the math!