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Hey Boxing: Enough With Victor Conte

For anyone that bothers to follow the sport of boxing on Twitter, they may have noticed a pattern in recent years whenever Errol Spence Jr is set to fight. The repeated event of note being that Victor Conte Jr, who pled guilty to federal charges of distributing steroids and money laundering back in 2005, makes allusions that Errol is not enrolled in any drug-testing for his fights. And true to form, in the run-up to the Errol Spence Jr vs Yordenis Ugas welterweight unification bout, Conte once again popped up on Twitter demanding answers from the fighters as if there is some prior relationship between them and Conte.

Despite Errol having been enrolled in a VADA directed drug-testing program since the Kell Brook fight, Conte continues to portray Errol as not being a participant in VADA testing. Furthermore, Errol is the WBC title holder in the welterweight division and as such, is subject to the WBC’s Clean Boxing Program which tests all fighters ranked in the top fifteen in each division. VADA is in charge of creating the testing schedule and hiring the contractors and labs they use to conduct sample collection and testing.

Under the guidelines of the WBC’s CBP program, testing is conducted at VADA’s discretion and they then bill the WBC. So if there was an issue of testing not being conducted it would actually be the fault of VADA, the very same organization that Conte promotes in these missives. But it’s not like Conte is looking to make logical points, he is just doing what he loves best, promoting Victor Conte as some kind of expert on doping.

I will not bother to drag this part of the story out so I will forgo the back-and-forth between Victor Conte and Keith Idec over this matter. Hell, I will not even take the time to mock another idiot of the boxing universe, Michael Montero, who tried to weigh-in with his non-existent expertise in the matter. And if you know me, you know I love making fun of boxing figures who are really dumb. Especially if they happen to be a RING magazine writer who was allegedly kicked out of the Boxing Writer’s Association of America for his extensive history of making racist Twitter posts. Maybe some day! But for now let us just focus on making fun of the “steroid mastermind”.

For VADA itself weighed in on the matter and ended all speculation regarding testing.

Conte was still undaunted, “But why?” he asked in a face-saving effort. Who knows? You can ask why people decide to do things and never get an answer. Myself, I always ask, “Why does Victor Conte Jr continue to promote his formulation of ZMA as being beneficial when scientific research has shown it to be nonsense?” and yet I never get an answer. Life is just full of mysteries we just cannot comprehend sometimes.

When Is An Expert Not An Expert?

The heart of the matter is that Victor Conte Jr portrays himself as some expert on the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs that operated in the shadows of sport and outsmarted the drug-testing agencies at every step. That’s all bullshit.

As detailed in A Game Of Shadows and other media sources, Victor Conte Jr leapt from failed idea to failed idea in his constant quest to become rich and famous. When lawsuits against the manufacturers of breast implants started to become common he claimed he could detect if implants were leaking with a $93 test. He was ordered by the State of California to stop. For a time he was making money conducting his mineral and trace assessment tests on seniors until his cousin Michael Conte and a few others were indicted for Medicare fraud over the matter. While Conte was not charged in the case it did close his ability to make money. In 1996 after a divorce and facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and IRS liens, Conte worked his way into the massive bodybuilding supplement industry. He eventually met Bill Romanowski and this was the supposed start of his PED-peddling days.

Now let’s look at a condensed history of this “steroid mastermind”. In 1998 local authorities in Colorado with the aid of the Drug Enforcement Agency began an investigation into Bill Romanowski for prescription medicine fraud. In the wake of charges that were filed in 1999, Julie Romanowski identified Victor Conte as being their source for Human Growth Hormone. This case would continue until 2001 when Romanowski was acquitted on drug charges, but the Romanowski’s statements on the source of their drugs were ruled inadmissible so Conte dodged that one.

In 2000 CJ Hunter, then the husband of Marion Jones who were both Victor Conte clients, failed four tests across separate events for 19-norandrostenediol and 19-norandrostenedione two steroid precursors that produce nandrolone. This is a formulation known as Norboletone which was synthesized by Patrick Arnold in 1998 using his standard practice of adopting steroids that had never made it to the marketplace. Victor Conte got this formulation from Arnold in the year 2000 and in the very same year he had clients failing drug tests. Apparently no one had informed the “steroid mastermind” that agencies had started to use more specific Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry tests to detect steroids such as the Carbon Isotope Ratio test developed by Don Catlin.

Victor Conte and BALCO only became known as the place to go to for these formulations because Patrick Arnold, already long on the radar of federal authorities, rarely sold his formulations directly. In fact, what really was the beginning of the end for this “golden era” of doping was Arnold deciding to sell his formulations to Tammy Thomas who had already failed numerous tests yet inexplicably was still allowed to compete. As you view the picture below, keep in mind that Tammy Thomas was not transitioning. Well, I guess “not transitioning willingly” would be a more accurate statement.


All Natty, Bro

Tammy Thomas would have gone directly to BALCO but she was not high-profile enough for Conte.

The Truth About PED Suppliers

There is not a lot of money to be made selling steroids alone. Which is why most of the drug dealers will sell athletes any extra drugs they can think of in order to increase their margins. If there was ever a study that suggested human feces increased athletic performance, you could be guaranteed that the PED suppliers would be selling people on their “Special Shit Supplements”. And not for wholesale prices.

Coaches who sell their athletes PEDs will demand percentages of endorsement money in return. For Victor Conte, what he wanted and received from his drug using clients was for them to promote his bullshit supplement line. Because the marketplace for the nonsensical world of supplements dwarfs the steroid industry. Selling steroids for Conte was just a means to an end. Which is why he had no time for Tammy Thomas as she was not high-profile enough for him to leverage. And it was her going to Patrick Arnold and convincing him to sell her the formulations directly and then subsequently being caught again that really was the beginning of the end of this period of doping.

Boxing will never be rid of the hucksters that litter the sport. From the racists to the criminals to the ring announcers claiming miraculous recovery from critical injuries; there will be half-ass writers like Mike Coppinger or Thomas Hauser that are willing to portray these people are sources of legitimate information.

What we can do as fans is that the next time you see Victor Conte Jr express his views on PEDs or be given credit as a subject matter expert on drug-testing, remember this little factoid of history; Victor Conte Jr and BALCO were out of business in 2003, the first WADA Code that established the methodologies of drug-testing policies, rules and regulations did not take effect until 2004.