Drugs in Sport: Baseball shamed as Giambi admits steroid use

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The Independent US

Baseball's long-simmering drugs scandal burst open yesterday, with the reported admission by the star New York Yankees slugger Jason Giambi that he used a cocktail of steroids for the three seasons between 2001 and 2003.

Baseball's long-simmering drugs scandal burst open yesterday, with the reported admission by the star New York Yankees slugger Jason Giambi that he used a cocktail of steroids for the three seasons between 2001 and 2003.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Giambi testified under oath to a federal grand jury last December that he had used syringes to inject human growth hormone into his stomach and testosterone into his buttocks. He also told the grand jury, set up to investigate the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (Balco) steroids case, that he had taken "undetectable" steroids known as "The Clear" and "The Cream". The first is a liquid which is placed under the tongue. The second is a testosterone-based balm rubbed on to the body.

The case came to prominence last year when the US Anti-Doping Agency accused the San Francisco nutritional supplements company, Balco, of being the source of various illicit performance-enhancing drugs, including the hitherto undetected designer steroid tetrahydrogestrinone, or THG.

At least two dozen top athletes and sports stars have been caught up in the scandal - among them the British sprinter Dwain Chambers who tested positive for THG in 2003 - and the US track stars Kelli White and Alvin Harrison.

Last February, the grand jury indicted Balco's founder, Victor Conte, Giambi's trainer, Greg Anderson, and two other men for conspiracy to distribute steroids and money laundering. The four deny any wrong-doing.

But Giambi's reported admissions come at a bad moment, just three months before the preliminary March trial date set by a San Francisco judge earlier this week. However, the embarrassment for major league baseball does not end there. Anderson was also the personal trainer for the San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds, the biggest star in the game. Bonds denies steroid use.

Baseball will be under new pressure to strengthen its rules on drug use.

Giambi, the American League's Most Valuable Player in 2000 when he was with the Oakland Athletics, was one of two dozen top athletes - among them Bonds - summoned to testify in the Balco case. He reportedly told the grand jury that Anderson had provided him with syringes and all the drugs except for human growth hormone, which he said he had obtained at a Las Vegas gym.

Both Jason Giambi and his brother, Jeremy, a former Oakland player, reportedly testified to steroid use before they met Anderson or heard of Balco. They claimed to have been drawn to him because of Bonds' success. Both were told they would be immune from prosecution if they told the truth, but would face perjury charges if they lied.

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