BALCO founder Victor Conte jailed four months

Victor Conte, the seminal figure at the centre of a major sports doping scandal, was sentenced on Tuesday

Victor Conte, the seminal figure at the centre of a major sports doping scandal, will serve four months in jail as part of a plea deal announced Tuesday.

Conte, who, in July, pleaded guilty to distributing steroids to pro and Olympic athletes, must also spend four months in home confinement as part of the deal negotiated with American prosecutors.

Also on Tuesday, BALCO vice president James Valente was sentenced to probation after pleading guilty to reduced charges of steroid distribution.

Greg Anderson, the personal trainer of San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds, was sentenced to six months after pleading guilty to the same charges as Conte - three months behind bars and three months in home confinement.

Russian track coach Remi Korchemny, also charged by the U.S. government, is expected to get probation at a later sentencing date.

Conte, the founder of nutritional supplement laboratory Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO), became the focus of the sports world after he was charged with distributing tetrahydrogestrinone (THG), a previously undetectable steroid, to more than 30 athletes in baseball, football and track and field.

THG is now banned throughout sports.

BALCO's offices in Burlingame, Calif., were raided by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, IRS agents and the San Mateo County Narcotics Task Force in September 2003, after American track and field coach Trevor Graham sent a syringe of THG to USADA.

The fallout from the raids has been immeasurable, as Conte became the subject of a massive grand jury investigation into steroid trafficking.

Major League Baseball overhauled its drug-testing policy after the U.S. Congress threatened to implement a strict federal policy for North American sports leagues.

A handful of track and field athletes were charged with doping violations as a result of a federal investigation into BALCO. They included Tim Montgomery, former holder of the world record in the 100-metre sprint, Michelle Collins, Dwain Chambers, Chryste Gaines, Alvin Harrison, Kevin Toth and Kelli White.

The BALCO investigation also placed a cloud of suspicion over other marquee athletes, such as Bonds and fellow baseball star Jason Giambi.

Bonds has repeatedly denied using banned substances. However, he testified in Dec. 2003 to unknowingly using a steroid-based cream provided by his trainer earlier that year.

Giambi, a member of the New York Yankees, reportedly admitted during his testimony to using steroids for at least three seasons and to injecting himself with human growth hormone.

with files from Associated Press