Milos Sarcev, a prominent California bodybuilder and former Mr. Universe was indicted last year in an alleged conspiracy to import illegal steroids and possesion of human growth hormone (HGH) from Thailand. Sarcev was indicted along with two other men, Dennis Tyron James and Admir Kantarevic, by a federal grand jury in Des Moines, Iowa.

Sarcev, who in addition to holding numerous bodybuilding titles, has graced the covers of all the bodybuilding magazines over the years. Sarcev is friends with Victor Conte Jr., the president of the infamous Balco Labs. Conte faces federal drug and money laundering charges himself in San Francisco. Sarcev stood up for Conte back when Conte's indictment was announced by U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. Sarcev designed workouts for some of Conte's prominent clients.

Federal court papers filed in November in Des Moines charge Sarcev, James and Kantarevic with a conspiracy to import anabolic steroids between February and April 2003. Kantarevic alone is charged with possession with an intent to distribute.

Last week, on Friday June 24, 2005, U.S. District Judge James Gritzner granted a motion made by Sarcev and James to have their trial separate from defendant Admir Kantarevic.

All three were scheduled for trial July 6 in federal court in Des Moines. But Rick Collins, attorney for James and Sarcev, argued for the separation based on incriminating statements Kantarevic made to investigators after his arrest.

If all three were tried together, the statements could infringe on the Sixth Amendment rights of Sarcev and James to confront their accuser and confuse the jury, Collins said.

Sarcev's home was raided last year. Federal agents seized his computer and other items. Collins has denied that Sarcev is a steroid dealer. Collins stated he has, "yet to see a shred of proof that my client had anything to do with this case."

Reports of a grand jury investigation into bodybuilding surfaced over a year ago, when grand jury subpoenas were handed to a number of bodybuilders at Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's annual bodybuilding event in Ohio. After casting a wide net, the investigation apparently has narrowed down to only three indictments. Sarcev's lawyer, Rick Collins, said he understands the indictment is based on "one single box of steroids that was found in the mail."

The charges carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison or a $250,000 fine, or both, according to the U.S. Attorney's office in Des Moines.

Collins observed that Sarcev was not charged with possession or distribution. "Even a person who was convicted under these facts would face a maximum punishment of far, far less than five years," Collins said.

Sarcev, 41, a two-time winner of Mr. Yugoslavia, Mr. Universe 1989, who now lives in Temecula, Calif., designed workouts for athletes who went to BALCO, the San Francisco business at the heart of the steroids scandal involving several Major League baseball players. He owns a Golds gym in Fullerton, Calif.

James, 35, charged with one count of importing anabolic steroids , is also a well known competitor on the bodybuilding circuit. Last year, James, nicknamed "The Menace," finished eighth in the Mr. Universe competition, held in Las Vegas, and has denied any wrongdoing. James, 35, is a professional bodybuilder who lives in Pattaya City, Thailand. He reportedly was arrested there in February after signing for a shipment from Germany of human growth hormone (HGH) and 18 tablets of the club drug Ecstasy, according to several bodybuilding Web sites that quoted a Thai newspaper story. The story said that Thai and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents seized his computer and suspected James of importing banned drugs while running a local gym.

Kantarevic, 33, is a personal trainer who has lived in Des Moines for several years and whose customers say has always preached natural methods. He is named in a federal court indictment because of a box he received in the mail. The indictment says that Kantarevic possessed steroids on April 9, 2003, and that he conspired to import them from Thailand, where James has a home.

Kantarevic said the package arrived anonymously from Thailand months after he apparently asked for help from Milos Sarcev, a 40-year-old former Mr. Yugoslavia with ties to a larger steroid investigation in California.

Kantarevic said the package arrived in his mail in early 2003, months after Kantarevic had recruited some of his clients to pay for a $2,000 bodybuilding seminar with Sarcev in Des Moines.

Sarcev was grateful to him for arranging the session, Kantarevic said. In return, Kantarevic asked for help with his training.

"He doesn't say what he's going to do," Kantarevic said. "He just says, 'I'm going to help you get better performance.'"

The trial for Kantarevic will begin July sixth. A trial date for Sarcev and James hasn't been set.