Local chemist indicted in BALCO case

By Vasanth Sridharan

A Champaign chemist was indicted Nov. 3 in connection with the BALCO steroid investigation in Northern California, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Northern District of California.

Patrick Arnold, 39, was charged with conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids and two other counts involving misbranding and delivery of the steroids, according to the statement.

Arnold allegedly conspired with BALCO founder Victor Conte to distribute tetrahydragestrinone, also known as THG or “The Clear;” Norbolethone; and Desoxymethyltestosterone, also known as DMT and “Madol,” according to the statement. THG is one of the drugs that baseball superstar Barry Bonds is suspected of taking.

“Today, we have taken another important step in the ongoing effort to eliminate the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in sports,” U.S. Attorney Kevin V. Ryan said in the statement. “As evidenced by today’s indictment of Mr. Arnold, we remain steadfast in our commitment to prosecuting those individuals involved in the distribution of anabolic steroids and performance-enhancing drugs.”

Arnold is an organic chemist with the Champaign-based Proviant Technologies, Inc. In a statement, Julie Ohlsson, Proviant’s public information officer said they are cooperating with authorities.

Proviant is standing behind Arnold, according to the statement.

“We are confident that (the authorities’) findings will ultimately absolve (Arnold) of any suggestion of wrongdoing,” Ohlsson said. “I would like to underscore that (Arnold) has always sought to conduct his business in a professional manner and with strict adherence to the law.”

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office statement, the maximum penalty if Arnold was convicted on either of the first two counts is a $250,000 fine and five years imprisonment. The maximum penalty for the third count is a $250,000 fine and three years imprisonment.

Arnold allegedly sent an e-mail to Conte in May 2002 telling him to warn his clients to stop taking Norbolethone after an athlete tested positive. Arnold allegedly faxed the positive test results to Conte, according to the statement.

Conte was sentenced to four months in prison and four months under house arrest in October after negotiating a plea with federal prosecutors.

“We’re not taking this case to the papers,” said Nanci L. Clarence, a San Francisco-based attorney representing Arnold. “We’re taking it to the courts.”

In a statement by Clarence and Arnold’s other attorney, New York-based Rick Collins, they said Arnold “is not guilty and will defend these charges vigorously in a court of law” and that Arnold “looks forward to his day in court.”