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Steroids Indictments Likely

Federal prosecutors are seeking indictments against a nutritional supplements lab, its founder and the personal trainer of baseball star Barry Bonds, The Associated Press has learned.

A grand jury in San Francisco was to be presented with indictment papers by prosecutors Thursday morning, according to federal law enforcement sources, who spoke Wednesday night with the AP on condition of anonymity.

Grand jurors have spent several months probing the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative and its founder, Victor Conte. Another target of the grand jury has been personal trainer Greg Anderson.

The two federal law enforcement sources would not divulge what charges prosecutors were seeking from the grand jury, which has been probing possible violations of tax laws and the allegedly improper distribution of steroids.

Conte has denied supplying athletes with banned substances. He did not immediately respond Wednesday night to an e-mail seeking comment.

The law enforcement sources said no indictments were being sought now against any athletes.

A parade of top athletes from at least five sports, ranging from Bonds to Olympic track star Marion Jones to boxer Shane Mosley, appeared before the grand jury probing BALCO and Anderson from late October to mid-December.

Conte has been accused of providing the recently discovered steroid THG to athletes. Five track and field athletes face two-year suspensions for THG use, while four Oakland Raiders players also flunked tests for the steroid unmasked by anti-doping officials last summer.

The steroid was uncovered only after an unidentified track coach gave the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency a syringe containing a substance that ultimately was identified as THG. That coach said he got the substance from Conte, who has denied the accusation.

BALCO, which operates out of an inconspicuous building in the shadow of San Francisco International Airport, claims it takes blood and urine samples from athletes and then prescribes a regimen of supplements to compensate for vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Bonds and other top athletes such as Raiders linebacker Bill Romanowski have been boosters of Conte and BALCO. Bonds has been a client since before the 2001 season — when he set the single-season home run record of 73.

Bonds, 39, has been working for years with Anderson, a boyhood friend.

"I visit BALCO every three to six months. They check my blood to make sure my levels are where they should be. Maybe I need to eat more broccoli than I normally do. Maybe my zinc and magnesium intakes need to increase," Bonds said in last June's issue of Muscle & Fitness magazine.

"Victor will call me to make sure I'm taking my supplements, and my trainer Greg will sit near my locker and stare at me if I don't begin working out right away. I have these guys pushing me."

Conte is no stranger to the spotlight.

When four separate tests before the 2000 Sydney Olympics showed U.S. shot putter C.J. Hunter had 1,000 times the allowable amount of the steroid nandrolone in his system, Conte took the blame, claiming the positive tests were the result of contaminated iron supplements he had supplied to Hunter — the former husband of Marion Jones.

By Rob Gloster

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