The CHill Zone of T&F: Conway's View From the Finish Line

The Conte Response

Oct 30th, 2011
9:36 am PST

Last week I suggested that with the various accusations Victor Conte has thrown out over the years regarding the wide spread use drugs in the sport, perhaps he might be the best source to help develop a system that could fix the problem. And that if he were sincere in wanting to see a cleaner track and field, perhaps he should offer to work with the sport as opposed to criticize it from afar.

Well imagine my surprise when apparently Mr. Conte himself not only read what I wrote but took the time to post a response to it. So following is Mr. Conte’s response as posted on this site:

Hi Conway,
I have met with both USADA and WADA a number of times and provided both agencies with lots of information that could help to reduce the use of drugs in sport. However, I’m just not so sure there is a genuine interest in catching those using performance enhancing drugs. I told USDA to increase their out of competition testing during the fourth quarter of the year because that is when the athletes are using steroids and other PEDs in conjunction with weight training to build the explosive strength base that serves them throughout the next competitive season. However, in the fourth quarter of 2007 before the 2008 Olympic Games, USADA actually reduced the amount of testing done by 50%. Why? I met with Dick Pound from WADA in New York in December of 2007 and provided him with lots of valuable information. Specific information that was never followed up on, because the new chairman John Fahey said that he didn’t want to accept information from a “convicted felon.” In 2010 I worked again with WADA on another project in which I was trying to help them develop a test for another designer substance. I asked Dick to please obtain a copy of the extensive notes that were taken during our 2007 meeting to confirm what I had told them about this network of people back in 2007 when WADA chose not to use the information. He came back and told me that WADA had “destroyed the notes” from our meeting. So, I question whether or not there is actually a genuine interest by USADA and WADA to catch the many drug cheats out there in sport today. Much of what I hear the officials from these agencies say publicly seems to be more about propaganda designed to deter athletes from using drugs. However, the athletes, trainers and chemists involved in doping are not so easliy going to be deterred by strong talk. Scare tactics have obviously not worked in the past and I don’t think they will work in the future either.There is simply too much incentive for the athletes and it is too easy to circumvent the anti-doping procedures in place at this time. In my opinion, the testing procedures need a complete overhaul before there will be a significant reduction in the use of drugs at the elite level of sport. I believe that it can be done, but these agencies will need to learn to judge less and listen more before significant positive change comes.

October 28, 2011 11:38 AM

Now, that’s a lot to digest, because it would appear that Conte has indeed made an attempt to do what I had suggested – work with the acronyms (USADA, WADA, et al) to improve the state of drug testing within the sport.

This, of course is just one side of the conversation, as there is no corroborating information from the USADA/WADA side that these things did indeed happen. Though I would certainly welcome comments from either agency regarding their interactions with Mr. Conte.

I do know, however, that this is a potentially great match for the sport – the pairing of one of the best doping minds the sport has seen with those entities entrusted with catching the very individuals that Conte once assisted! And just as I raised the question of sincerity with Conte, I have to do the same with the agencies whose job it is to bring down the cheaters, because I would think that whether you like Conte or not, obtaining his knowledge on doping would be a tremendous coup.

I also know that some of the things Conte mentioned in his response make sense. I myself have mentioned the need for increased out of competition testing to ensure proper development of “blood passports” to use with a Blood Testing program. As a matter of fact, I will be taking a look at the whole issue of testing and my suggestions to improve the sports’ standing on this matter in the very near future.

For now I would like to thank Mr. Conte for his comments, and would love to hear from USADA and/or WADA regarding their side of the Conte conversation.

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