August 4, 2006

Three months in prison for BALCO chemist

By Adam Tanner

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A U.S. federal judge sentenced
the Illinois chemist who devised a steroid at the center of the
BALCO sports doping scandal to three months in prison on

Judge Susan Illston accepted a plea deal agreement of three
months prison followed by three months home detention as part
of a two-year supervised release program for Patrick Arnold,
known as the "father of prohormones," which are steroid-like

The punishment was the same as baseball star Barry Bonds'
personal trainer received last year for steroid distribution in
the BALCO affair, which has tarred the reputations of top
athletes in track and field, baseball and football.

Illston last year sentenced the head of the BALCO lab to
four months jail, four months home confinement.

"It's a really destructive path you have been on," Illston
told Arnold during the sentencing hearing, adding the doping
scandal has been "damaging to the nation as a whole."

Arnold told reporters he plans on leading a "nice clean
life" after serving his sentence and apologized for his role in
the doping scandal.

"I am very regretful for what I've done," he said.

Nanci Clarence, Arnold's lawyer, ruled out the possibility
he would help prosecutors by sharing his knowledge of steroids.
"He is not cooperating," Clarence said after the sentencing.

In April, Arnold admitted guilt to one count of conspiring
to distribute steroids. He concocted the steroid known as
"Clear" or THG (tetrahydrogestrinone) that had enabled pro
athletes to boost their performance without detection.

According to the federal indictment last year, Arnold
synthesized THG from gestrinone, a steroid for which he paid
$10,800 in China and then sent the refashioned substance to
California-based BALCO and others.

Officials only gained the ability to detect Clear after a
track coach in 2003 sent a used syringe to the U.S. Anti-Doping
Agency. Only new testing developed afterward was able to detect
use of the drug.

The BALCO scandal continues to take a toll.

On Thursday, the trainer that sent in the discarded
syringe, Trevor Graham, was banned from using U.S. Olympic
Committee training centers and facilities. Earlier, one of his
trainees, Olympic and 100-meter champion Justin Gatlin failed a
test for testosterone or its precursors.

San Francisco Giant Barry Bonds, who is playing mediocre
baseball this year, is also still the subject of a grand jury
probe into whether he lied in BALCO testimony about any past
association with steroids.