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DEA Agents at the Arnold Classic
March 9, 2004

  • Balco. What a tangled web it weaves. This Balco name shall be remember as the place that touched off the storm of witch hunts and inquiries in the murky world of steroids and bodybuilding and sports. And the 2004 Arnold Classic, even with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger presiding, was not untouched by the swarming DEA agents.

    First in December, they, on account from various information they gathered, detain Milos Sarcev, put him in handcuffs in front of his family, and ranshack his house for hours looking for anything they could find. They took computers, and other person things from Milos. They didn't find anything.

    Now, at the Arnold Classic, the DEA agents tried to subpeona dozens of bodybuilders to appear on March 24th in Des Moines, Iowa, to testify in secret to a grand jury on what they know about steroids, who deals steroids, and so on. They even made a scene on Friday night at the Doubletree by swarming into poor Mustafa Mohammed's room looking for things and detaining his friend. Did they give out those subpeanas. You bet. I estimate at least 20-30 pro bodybuilders received them asking them to appear in Des Moines. At least they had the decency not to start things at the actual contest at the Veteran's Auditorium.

    The most interesting thing was that Victor Conte, the man who founded Balco, was at the Arnold Classic Expo, as was Ron Kramer, the man whom many sources name as the informant on the Balco case. (See other news story). The things you hear and see at the Arnold Classic.

    Below is an article from ESPN, from our bodybuilding hating reporter Shaun Assael (he wrote an biased opiniated article last year on the Arnold Classic Expo too), that give more info.

  • Source: Thursday, March 11, 2004: By Shaun Assael: ESPN The Magazine

    The federal government's ongoing investigation into steroids has broadened to include a bodybuilder who designed workouts for clients of BALCO, the sports supplement laboratory that allegedly funneled a designer steroid to prominent athletes.

    It also touched California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last weekend, as federal agents descended on The Arnold, the bodybuilding convention he co-owns, to serve subpoenas in connection with the expanding probe.

    In December, agents from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration raided the Fullerton, Calif., home of bodybuilding champion Milos Sarcev, a former Mr. Yugoslavia, confiscating his computer among other things. Sarcev had designed workouts for many of the clients of Victor Conte, who has been indicted by a federal grand jury on steroid distribution and money laundering charges in connection with his San Francisco-based BALCO lab. Sarcev personally trained BALCO client Tim Montgomery before the sprinter set the world record in the 100 meters in September 2002.

    A second federal grand jury has been convened in Des Moines, Iowa, to look into the illegal distribution of steroids, ESPN has learned. Sarcev's attorney, Rick Collins, said he was aware of the grand jury and that "it is possible" his client is a target. "Whether the grand jury is looking at a particular individual or many is anyone's guess."

    Collins, who also serves as counsel to the International Federation of BodyBuilders, maintains that Sarcev "is not a steroid dealer, and never has been. Not one steroid was found there. Zero. Zip. This is a witch hunt," he said. "There are too many corporate dollars in baseball, football and the Olympics, so it's not surprising that their focus is to scapegoat a fringe sport."

    In an interview with the San Jose Mercury News last October, Sarcev talked about his work with Montgomery: "Victor asked me to come to Burlingame and help Tim with his strength training. So I prepared a program for Tim. He accepted it and he improved dramatically. Tim was very grateful for my work." Efforts to reach Montgomery's agent, Charlie Wells, were unsuccessful.

    The grand jury subpoenas were served last week in the Greater Columbus Convention Center. The subpoenas require the recipients to testify later this month, Collins said. The attorney said he believes at least five bodybuilders received subpoenaes.

    Al Overbaugh, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Des Moines, refused to confirm that his office had convened a grand jury investigation into the world of bodybuilding. Rusty Payne, a spokesman for the DEA, refused comment.

    The Arnold, a three-day supplement convention that also includes bodybuilding shows, was first held in Columbus in 1989 and now draws 600 exhibitors, 80,000 ticket buyers and 11,000 athletes. In a speech at the convention that was met with a standing ovation on Sunday, Schwarzenegger told attendees that he believes the Food and Drug Administration should not regulate dietary supplements because "I have very rarely seen the government do anything that was effective."

    A spokesman for the governor, Lee Thomas, said, "The governor's press office will have no comment because it was not a government event." She directed questions to Jim Lorimer, Schwarzenegger's partner in Classic Productions, who did not return a phone message left at his office.

    It is unclear if the agents were present at the same time as the governor. But their presence did overlap with Conte's, who was there to pitch ZMA, his mineral supplement. Montgomery and Marion Jones, both Olympic medal winners, were among those athletes who testified before the grand jury that ultimately indicted Conte.

    Conte's indictment has sent shock waves through Major League Baseball, where seven players who testified before the grand jury, including Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi, have had the results of drug tests that they took last spring subpoenaed. Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson, was among four people indicted in the BALCO case. All have pleaded not guilty.

DEA, Second Grand Jury Look Into Bodybuilders
March 12, 2004

  • Source: By Elliott Almond and Mark Emmons: Mercury News

    A prominent Southern California bodybuilder said Friday that he and other top competitors in the sport have been questioned by Drug Enforcement Administration agents in connection with a second grand jury investigation into a mushrooming drug scandal.

    Shawn Ray also confirmed that federal agents subpoenaed at least five bodybuilders last weekend at the Arnold Fitness Weekend, an annual three-day athletic convention in Columbus, Ohio, that is co-owned by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Ray said those bodybuilders included Craig Titus, Nasser El Sonbaty and Flex Wheeler, who is a San Jose resident.

    Titus said he was subpoenaed, but then he declined to comment Friday. El Sonbaty and Wheeler could not be reached.

    ``If they're cracking down on the NFL and baseball, bodybuilding is no different,'' said Ray, the International Federation of BodyBuilders' athletes representative.

    Ray said DEA agents came to his Placentia home in February.

    ``It was an information-seeking mission that was working on behalf of what the president was talking about in the State of the Union,'' Ray said, referring to President Bush's call for sports to tackle steroid use. ``They were just following up on leads, all of which I think they had the answers to.''

    The issue of performance-enhancing drugs in sport has exploded into the national conscience in recent months with the investigation of Burlingame's Balco Laboratories. About 30 athletes and coaches testified in a subsequent grand jury probe into Balco that resulted in indictments against four men, including its founder, Victor Conte Jr., and Barry Bonds' trainer, Greg Anderson.

    Conte has connections to bodybuilding, including Milos Sarcev, a former Mr. Yugoslavia who at Conte's request helped design a workout program for Tim Montgomery when the sprinter set the 100-meter world record. On Nov. 29, DEA agents raided Sarcev's home in Temecula.

    ESPN reported Thursday that a second grand jury has been convened in Des Moines, Iowa, to explore the illegal distribution of steroids. Rick Collins, Sarcev's attorney, told ESPN that his client might be a target in the Iowa grand jury.

    Collins and Sarcev did not respond to phone messages Friday. In an earlier interview, Collins predicted that bodybuilders would feel the brunt of the focus on banned substances -- not athletes in major league baseball, the NFL or Olympic sports.

    ``I suspect there might be some isolated examples to hold up to the public,'' said Collins, the author of ``Legal Muscle: Anabolics in America.'' ``But it will only scratch the true extent of use among elite athletes. I think this will fall hardest on the bodybuilders.''

    Ray said DEA agents asked him about bodybuilding giant Joe Weider, IFBB executive Wayne DeMilla and Conte, and that they wanted to know if there was pressure to take steroids. He added that agents told him he ``was at the tail end of a long list of bodybuilders'' they had questioned. Ray said he told them that bodybuilders never ``sit down and discuss drugs and talk about trafficking. We don't get into our personal routine about how we prepare for bodybuilding competitions.''

    Since testing positive for steroids at the 1990 Arnold event, Ray said he has competed drug-free.

    The Arnold Fitness Weekend drew a record 100,000 spectators, along with two men who may have had good reason to avoid each other.

    One was Conte. The other was Ron Kramer, identified by Reuters news service Thursday as an informant who tipped narcotics investigators about Conte's alleged steroid dealing. The two did not come in contact.

    Kramer, 40, of Arizona, is a body-building promoter who also markets a supplement. From the early 1990s through 2001, he lived in Santa Cruz and on the Peninsula and was arrested several times, including a steroids-related charge in 1997. It has been rumored for weeks that he was an informant in the Balco case, but he has declined to comment.

    Although unavailable for comment Friday, Wheeler spoke to the Mercury News in December about his own performance-enhancing-drug use in hopes of discouraging others who might try to follow in his footsteps.