Leak of Montgomery testimony creates uproar

Posted: Friday, June 25, 2004

SAN FRANCISCO When Tim Montgomery appeared before a federal grand jury and reportedly admitted using performance-enhancing drugs he probably expected his testimony to stay secret until the case went to trial.

But on Thursday, the San Francisco Chronicle published details of the testimony in which Montgomery also said the man at the center of the BALCO scandal told him he supplied Barry Bonds with steroids. The newspaper did not say how it obtained the information.

Montgomery's lawyers and representatives of the other elite athletes and trainers implicated in the steroid probe were livid over the leak. Several called for a federal investigation.

''I think it's outrageous,'' said Anna Ling, the attorney for Bonds' trainer, Greg Anderson, one of four men indicted in the BALCO scandal. ''The secrecy of the grand jury system is a foundation of the criminal justice system.''

Montgomery testified that he used human growth hormone and a then-undetectable steroid, and that the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative's founder, Victor Conte, told him he gave Bonds performance-enhancers, according to the Chronicle. The newspaper's report included direct quotes from Montgomery's testimony.

It is illegal to give grand jury testimony to the media. Prosecutors did not return calls from The Associated Press seeking to determine if they would launch an investigation.

Montgomery was one of several sprinters who received a letter Wednesday from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency warning that they could face punishment for alleged steroid use. USADA plans to seek a lifetime ban for Montgomery, two sources familiar with USADA's warning letter told the AP on condition of anonymity.

He is expected to contest the ban at an arbitration hearing.

''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,'' Montgomery's attorney, Cristina Arguedas, said in a statement. ''Otherwise, there's no way I can respond to these blind allegations.''

Montgomery also gave secondhand testimony implicating Bonds, saying Conte told him he supplied Bonds with the same steroid Ben Johnson used before being disqualified in the 1988 Olympics. Montgomery also said Conte told him Bonds switched to an undetectable steroid in 2003, when baseball introduced its drug policy.

''That is absolutely untrue,'' said Conte's attorney, Robert Holley. ''Victor Conte has repeatedly said from the very beginning that he has never provided Barry Bonds with steroids, has never seen Barry Bonds take steroids or take any kind of performance-enhancing drugs.''

Holley said Conte never would have confided in Montgomery. He added that the sprinter split with Conte in 2001 and would have had no way to know what went on with Bonds in 2003.

Bonds has publicly denied using any performance-enhancing drugs and lashed out at Montgomery on Thursday.

''It bothers me when people I don't even know are saying stuff about me,'' Bonds said, venting his anger in the San Francisco Giants' locker room. ''Next time, if I know for sure so-and-so, they're going to talk to my lawyer from now on. I guarantee that.''

The release of the testimony could be cause for concern for some of the dozens of elite athletes who testified.

Marion Jones' attorney, Joseph Burton, called the leak an ''extremely serious matter.'' Jones, however, has asked for her own testimony to be released.

''We know that it will confirm what she has said publicly and has been confirmed by a polygraph examination: She has never, ever used performance-enhancing drugs,'' Burton said.

Though distributing grand jury transcripts to the media is illegal, it would be very difficult to prove, said Douglas Kmiec, a Pepperdine University School of Law professor.

''The party receiving the information is normally a member of the press and has a journalistic duty not to disclose sources,'' Kmiec said. ''The government then has to find the source of the leak itself and that tends to be very difficult.''

The government gave the defendants transcripts of most of the grand jury testimony after the indictments came down in February. But defense attorneys said the documents were under protective order and never should have been leaked.

''I can tell you quite sure it didn't come from the defense,'' Holley said. ''The transcript is devastating to Victor Conte. He would never in a million years have given that out. The adverse publicity gives him much less of a chance at a fair trial.

Montgomery testified last November, the Chronicle reported, that in 2001 Conte gave him weekly doses of human growth hormone and a substance called ''the clear'' which Montgomery referred to as a ''magic potion.''

Montgomery set a world record of 9.78 seconds in the 100 meters in 2002.

''The clear'' was later determined to be THG, a previously undetectable steroid now at the center of the BALCO probe, which threatens to keep some of America's top sprinters out of the Athens Olympics.

AP Sports Writers Janie McCauley in San Francisco and Rob Gloster in Athens contributed to this report.

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