Story by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
February 7, 2015, Victoria, BC (ISN) – As reported Friday afternoon here on ISN, long-time Victoria Eagles baseball coach and General Manager Gautam Srivastava is facing a number of criminal charges related to the alleged import, manufacture and distribution of anabolic steroids.
Former Victoria Eagles coach and GM Gautam Srivastava is facing several charges related to the alleged import, manufacture and distribution of steroids (File Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
A search of the BC Ministry of Courts Services Online system shows that Srivastava is facing a total of seven separate counts related to the alleged manufature and distribution of anabolic steroids. The charges were formally filed last Thursday, January 29, 2015 and many of the specific charges date back to January of 2009.
The charges include smuggling goods into Canada, exchanging, selling, purchasing illegally imported goods, importing/exporting a controlled substance, possession for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking in a controlled substance and production of a controlled substance. Simon Baturin, William Baturin and Hubert Sims, all from the Vancouver area, are also facing four separate counts each in the matter.
Court documents obtained by CTV News Vancouver Island and cited in their detailed report on the matter Friday, show that an investigation by Canadian Border Services agents led to the execution of a search warrant on a building in Vancouver where it is alleged they found a lab and large amounts of steroids worth several hundred thousand dollars.
Srivastava, who is reportedly a co-owner of the building, said in an interview with Christian Stewart of ISN on Friday that he has never met the other co-accused and that he is only being charged because his name is associated with the building where the search took place. “I am not and have not been involved in this.” He also told CTV News that, I am innocent and I look forward to the evidence of my innocence coming forward.”
In interviews with both ISN and CTV News Vancouver Island on Friday, Srivastava said definitively that none of the steroids were brought to the Island and that the charges are not related at all to any steroid use by, or distribution to any players in the Victoria Eagles organization, any other BCPBL players, nor any other players that were under Srivastava’s supervision over the years he has been coaching.
The British Columbia Premier Baseball League (BCPBL) has a strong policy against the use of any type of performance enhancing substances and the players, many of whom are striving to secure NCAA or Canadian college and university scholarships, are well aware of the dangers of using such substances, as well as the risk it poses to their education and careers if they get caught.
Those sentiments were echoed by Victoria Eagles Chairman Martin Winstanley as well on Friday, who was shocked at the allegations against Srivastava and noted that he is not aware of any of these charges being related to substance abuse within the Eagles organization or by any players.
Premier Eagles Head Coach Anthony Pluta, who is a former pro in the Houston Astro’s organization and who has witnessed first hand the troubles of performance enhancing substances in his sport, was also quick to point out that he has seen no evidence of substance abuse among his players. Reached for comment Saturday, Pluta said, “Over my 13 years as a professional baseball player I have encountered the use of many substances in a clubhouse and steroids was one of them. Every professional baseball player since the Mitchell Report has been educated on the negative effects steroids have on the body. Those negative effects can be seen in the majority of players that use steroids without the supervision of a medical doctor. In my time here in Victoria with the Eagles, I have never seen any signs that would spark the concern that one of my players was using steroids.”
Victoria Eagles Head Coach Anthony Pluta: “I have never seen any signs that would spark the concern that one of my players was using steroids.” (File Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Pluta also expressed a personal concern for Srivastava and a hope that no matter what people think, one way or the other, that everyone understands that Srivastava is innocent until proven guilty. “I know Gautam must be under a tremendous amount of pressure right now. There is a reason why the word “allegation” is used in such cases. I hope that these allegations are false.”
“I have not known Gautum that long but I do know that he loves baseball and the Eagles organization more than most,” added Pluta. “He would do anything for the players, parents, coaches and people involved with the Eagles organization and around the league. One thing he would not do is give kids steroids.”
Despite the feelings of Winstanley and Pluta, as a precaution and to separate themselves from the matter until the charges have been resolved, the Eagles organization has suspended Srivastava from his duties as General Manager. BC Baseball has also acknowledged that Srivastava is no longer involved with their organization.
No court date has yet been set in the matter.
Stay tuned for updates as they become available.