When sports fans hear the name Victor Conte, two things typically come to mind: Steroids and Barry Bonds.
Founder of the infamous Bay Area Co-Operative (BALCO) sports nutrition center in Burlingame, Calif., which is where the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) claimed the company created an undetectable designer steroid known as "The Clear" (tetrahydrogestrinone), Conte has been linked to supplying performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) to several major sports stars.
In particular, the NFL's Bill Romanowski, track and field standouts Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery and the aforementioned Barry Bonds, among others.
After the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) found all the evidence it needed to confirm the company's link to illegal steroids and growth hormones in 2003 after a raid of BALCO headquarters, which had a list of clients that included some the previously mentioned names, Conte was sentenced to four months in prison and four months of house arrest after entering guilty pleas for conspiracy to distribute steroids in 2005.
Now, the same man who once supplied some of the biggest names in sports with all the PED's their bodies could handle, is doing a 180-degree about-face, looking to clean sports of all banned drugs. And in his crosshairs is none other than the fast rising one of them all, mixed martial arts (MMA).
Appearing on "The MMA Hour" today (April 9, 2012), Conte says sports commissions and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) organization can do more to clean up the sport of all banned substances, as well as gives his opinions on the recent positive test of Alistair Overeem.
Check it out:
"I believe that they could do more. And listen, Dana White's a very smart man. [NSAC executive director] Keith Kizer's a very smart man, and he's an attorney. But the logic for argument that they present in this particular situation just does not fly. There are options available. Is it ever going to be perfect, is it ever going to be fool-proof? The answer is, 'no.' But, can it be much more effective, and can the use of [testosterone-replacement therapy] and other anabolic steroids and performance-enhancing drugs, can the rampant use be significantly reduced? I believe it can and I believe there's some simple answers. I respect Keith Kizer. I think he's trying to do the best that he can. It's a very difficult situation, because they have a lack of funding. But, I think the UFC could contribute a certain portion to this, and I think it can be much better than it is now. When Dana says, ‘We have the most regulated testing on the planet,' I think it's a joke for him to say that. It reminds me of when Bud Selig, years back, said that baseball had the toughest anti-doping program in American sports. I think both of them know that what they're saying is simply not true. The Nevada commission's testing is weak, okay? It is not effective. VADA (Voluntary Anti- Doping Agency) is a much better option. USADA, I think, is too expensive for what they do. ...The point I'm trying to make is there are some steps that can be taken, that are cost-effective, that would significantly reduce the use of PEDs in the UFC. I would like to see Dana White take those steps."
When asked what he thought of the recent positive drug test turned in by UFC 146 co-headliner Alistair Overeem, he had this to say:
"It doesn't surprise me. He probably knows that it will be confirmed. He knows whether he was doing testosterone or not. At a level of 14/1, you do see some up like Kizer said, maybe 5 or 5.2, there have been some cases where there's been up in the eights and nines and tens, and I think there's even been a natural at 13. But he's (Overeem) the only one that knows whether he was using or not. My opinion, and that's all it is, is that he's as guilty as a three-dollar bill."
His opinion on the overall percentage of athletes in the UFC he feels are on PED's:
"Do I believe that 90 percent are using some sort of performance enhancing drugs in the UFC? I do. But there are those that do not and I think that number is going to grow over time if they realize the testing is very weak.
Staggering projected number to say the least.
Of course, that is only Conte's opinion and not a proven fact. For one, "The Reem" will have his day to prove his innocence, or try his hardest at doing so, on April 24, 2012, when he is scheduled to appear before Keith Kizer and the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) to give his explanation behind his astounding testosterone ratio, and see whether or not he will indeed be granted a license to compete at UFC 146 opposite Junior dos Santos on Memorial Day Weekend (May 26, 2012).
How about it Maniacs, what is your take on the fact that one of the most talked about names in illegal drug distribution to sports stars is now looking to clean up the sports we love? Conte has danced on the dark side in the past, could it be possible that having someone with so much intelligence in the field be a positive (no pun intended) asset to cracking down on MMA's war on performance enhancing drugs moving forward?