Sun, Aug 06, 2006 - Page 24 News List

`Clearman' the US chemist sentenced in doping scandal

AP AND AFP , SAN FRANCISCO

A US chemist nicknamed "Clearman," the creator of a previously undetectable steroid known as "the clear," was sentenced to three months in prison and three months' home confinement on Friday for his role in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) drug scandal.

Patrick Arnold, 40, was the last of five defendants convicted of steroid-distribution charges connected to BALCO, a nutritional supplement company federal authorities exposed as a steroid distribution ring for top athletes.

"The behavior reflected here is destructive and damaging to Arnold, damaging to the community and damaging to the nation as a whole," US District Court Judge Susan Illston said. Arnold was ordered to report to prison by Sept. 19.

"I'm very regretful for what I've done and especially since what it has precipitated in sports and society," Arnold said outside court. "I do believe there should be a level playing field, and that this whole things needs to be addressed."

Federal prosecutors declined to comment.

Arnold created the steroid in his Illinois laboratory. But he and his BALCO co-conspirators were tripped up when track coach Trevor Graham anonymously mailed a syringe containing the performance-enhancing drug to the US Anti-Doping Agency in June 2003.

With "the clear" in hand, scientists were able to create a test to detect it.

Arnold was snared after federal agents raided his Champaign, Illinois lab last year.

The scientist is best known for introducing the steroid precursor androstenedione to the US. Nicknamed "andro," the chemical came to public attention in 1998 when St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire said he used it when he broke Major League Baseball's single-season home run record.

In April, Arnold pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy to distribute steroids.

He was indicted in November on a charge of conspiring with BALCO founder Victor Conte to distribute tetrahydragestrinone, also known as "the clear," a powerful steroid that helped athletes add muscle mass and recover quickly from intense workouts.

A new grand jury is investigating whether San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds lied about using "the clear" to the grand jury that investigated the BALCO lab more than two years ago. Graham is also reportedly a target of the federal steroids investigation, according to the New York Times.

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