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Testimony puts heat on Giambi

Steroid issue surfaces again in Major League Baseball

Posted: Friday, December 03, 2004

 

  ** FILE ** New York Yankees' Jason Giambi gets ready for batting practice during a light workout at Legends Field in Tampa, Fla., in this April 2, 2004 photo. Giambi injected himself with human growth hormone in 2003 and used steroids for at least three seasons, according to his grand jury testimony that was reviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chronicle reported Thursday Dec. 2, 2004. AP Photo/Steve Nesius

** FILE ** New York Yankees' Jason Giambi gets ready for batting practice during a light workout at Legends Field in Tampa, Fla., in this April 2, 2004 photo. Giambi injected himself with human growth hormone in 2003 and used steroids for at least three seasons, according to his grand jury testimony that was reviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chronicle reported Thursday Dec. 2, 2004.

AP Photo/Steve Nesius

NEW YORK Jason Giambi's reported testimony that he used steroids might jeopardize his $120 million contract with the New York Yankees and allow baseball commissioner Bud Selig to discipline him.

Giambi said he injected himself with human growth hormone in 2003 and used steroids for at least three seasons, according to a grand jury transcript reviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle.

His testimony last December, before a federal grand jury investigating illegal steroid distribution, contradicts his public proclamations that he never used performance-enhancing drugs.

Penalties for steroid use in baseball began in 2003, but testing that identified players didn't start until the next season. Human growth hormone, or hGH, is not specifically banned by the major leagues.

While discipline is spelled out for positive tests and criminal convictions, admission of steroid use is not addressed, possibly giving Selig an opening to punish Giambi. Even so, baseball can't test him more than other players because it's been over a year since the steroid use.

Selig repeatedly has called for year-round random testing and harsher penalties, but management and the players' association have failed to reach an agreement. The contract runs through the 2006 season.

''I've been saying for many months: I instituted a very, very tough program in the minor leagues on steroids in 2001. We need to have that program at the major league level,'' Selig said Thursday in Washington, D.C. ''We're going to leave no stone unturned until we have that policy in place by spring training 2005.''

Giambi, the 2000 American League MVP with Oakland, signed a seven-year contract with the Yankees before the 2002 season, the sixth-highest deal in baseball history.

Bothered by an injured knee, Giambi hit just .250 in 2003. He batted .208 and played in only 80 games last season, missing time because of a sprained right ankle, fatigue and a benign tumor, which the New York Daily News reported was in his pituitary gland. The Yankees did not even include him on their postseason roster.

Giambi reportedly testified that one of the drugs he thought he used was Clomid, a female fertility drug that some medical experts say can exacerbate a pituitary tumor.

Giambi's agent, Arn Tellem, didn't return telephone calls seeking comment.

New York still owes Giambi $82 million, but the Yankees might be able to get out of the deal.

They could argue Giambi's use of steroids violated his contract, allowing them to terminate it; violated the guarantee language of the deal, allowing them to release him at a fraction of the remaining money; or caused him to be injured or unavailable, meaning he was paid at a time when he was at less than full strength.

''We have met with the commissioner's office today and will continue to work with them to obtain all of the facts in this matter,'' Yankees president Randy Levine said. ''We have made no decisions and will keep all of our options open.''

Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan said his office was concerned about the leaks to the Chronicle and asked the Justice Department to investigate. ''Violations of grand jury secrecy rules will not be tolerated,'' Ryan said.

Giambi came to spring training this year noticeably trimmer. Asked in February whether he had ever taken performance-enhancing drugs, Giambi said: ''Are you talking about steroids? No.''

However, he told grand jurors he used steroids during the 2001-2003 seasons, the Chronicle reported Thursday. He testified how he injected hGH in his stomach, testosterone into his buttocks, rubbed an undetectable steroid knows as ''the cream'' on his body and placed drops of another, called ''the clear,'' under his tongue, the newspaper said.

Giambi testified that he obtained several different steroids from Barry Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson, one of four men indicted by the grand jury probing the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative. He said he got the hGH from a gym in Las Vegas.

Tony Serra, Anderson's lawyer, said Anderson ''never knowingly provided illegal substances to anyone.''

Gene Orza, the chief operating officer of the players' association, declined comment.

Anderson, BALCO founder Victor Conte, BALCO vice president James Valente and track coach Remi Korchemny have pleaded not guilty to charges that include steroid distribution.

In an interview to be shown on ABC's ''20/20'' on Friday night, Conte mocked MLB's drug-testing program.

''I think they still believe there's a Santa Claus,'' he said. ''They're not in contact with reality. I mean the program that they put together is a joke.''

''Let me tell you the biggest joke of all: I would guesstimate that more than 50 percent of the athletes are taking some form of anabolic steroids,'' he said.

BALCO founder alleges steroid use by Jones in ABC interview

NEW YORK Olympic star Marion Jones injected herself in the leg with human growth hormone while BALCO head Victor Conte watched, he told ABC News in an interview for ''20/20,'' to be aired Friday.

Jones also was given other performance-enhancing drugs by Conte, one of four men indicted in an alleged steroid-distribution ring.

Jones' attorneys denied that she ever used performance-enhancing drugs.

In excerpts released by the network of the interview to be broadcast Friday night, Conte said he started supplying Jones with performance-enhancing drugs in the weeks leading up to the 2000 Olympics, where Jones won five medals.

Conte said he gave her a substance called ''the clear,'' which was later determined to be THG, EPO and insulin. He also showed her how to inject hGH into her leg.

''After I instructed her how to do it and dialed it up, she did the injection with me sitting right there next to her ... right in front of me,'' he told ABC.

Conte told ESPN the Magazine for an upcoming issue that Jones wasn't nervous about injecting herself.

''There was a lot she needed to know, like how to assemble it, how to get the air bubbles out of the cartridge so she didn't inject air, and how to inject herself ...,'' he said. ''She was wearing stretch bicycle shorts, and she pulled up the spandex above her right thigh. She dialed up the cartridge injector to deliver 4.5 units of growth hormone. I was sitting about a foot away from her as she injected the growth hormone into her quadricep.''

Jones, who is under investigation for steroid use by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, has denied using any performance-enhancing drugs and passed a lie detector test arranged by her attorneys in June.

''Mr. Conte's statements have been wildly contradictory, while Marion Jones has steadfastly maintained her position throughout: She has never, ever used performance-enhancing drugs,'' said her attorney, Rich Nichols. ''... Mr. Conte is simply not credible. We challenge him to submit to the same lie detector procedure that Marion Jones passed.''

Phone calls and e-mails to Conte's attorney, Robert Holley, weren't immediately returned.

Jones, who failed to win a medal at this year's Olympics, has never failed a drug test, but Conte said no accurate tests existed for the substances he gave her during the approximately 13 months he worked with her.

''I know that she was tested many, many times from the timeframe that I worked with her ... And she obviously passed all those drug tests, including the ones at the Olympic Games,'' he said. ''So as I told you earlier ... it's like taking candy from a baby.''

Conte also told ESPN the Magazine that a new drug, which he dubs ''the clear III,'' is currently in circulation.

Conte was indicted in February by the grand jury investigating the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative. Conte, BALCO vice president James Valente, Barry Bonds' personal trainer Greg Anderson and track coach Remi Korchemny all have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Conte also said he developed a plan to use drugs to help Tim Montgomery, the father of Jones' baby, break the world record in the 100 meters in 2002. Montgomery's attorney, Howard Jacobs, declined to comment on the charges.

Conte also admitted to giving steroids to Anderson, but did not know whether Anderson gave any of them to Bonds or other baseball players.



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