FBI Raid Seeks 'S.F. Chronicle' BALCO Source

By: Joe Strupp FBI agents raided the Bay Area home of a suspected steroid dealer yesterday as part of a federal investigation into who leaked federal grand jury testimony to the San Francisco Chronicle, the paper reported today.

The paper quoted unnamed sources within the investigation as saying the raid was part of an effort to find out how the Chronicle had obtained the testimony for news stories about the BALCO steroid scandal. The paper has broken several elements of the story in recent months, including revelations that New York Yankee Jason Giambi and San Francisco Giant Barry Bonds admitted in their testimony to using steroids.

"The sources ... said more than a dozen agents arrived before 8 a.m. at the home of [BALCO founder Victor] Conte," the Chronicle reported. "Agents seized Conte's computer and other items."

The Chronicle's coverage has drawn criticism from federal investigators, who objected to the paper's disclosure of the secret testimony. The local U.S. Attorney's Office last summer sent letters to the newspaper demanding to know the source of the testimony. Editors have declined to release the source's identities.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston asked the Justice Department to investigate how the newspaper had obtained the testimony, leading to the raid, the paper reported.

Chronicle Editor Phil Bronstein reiterated in today's paper that the sources would remain undisclosed. "Our response continues to be what it's always been," he stated. "We will absolutely protect the integrity and confidentiality of our sources."

In a story about the raid that was posted on its Web site yesterday, the San Jose Mercury News quoted an unnamed source as saying the agents also were seeking documents showing that Conte had communicated with the Mercury News and ESPN.com.


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