Victor Conte's Secret: How To Take Candy from a Baby

Millard BakerCorrespondent IMay 16, 2008

John Scott, the Director of Drug Free Sports at UK Sport, welcomed cooperation from sprinter Dwain Chambers and Victor Conte in sharing details of a sophisticated BALCO performance enhancing drug stack (”Statement regarding Dwain Chambers meeting,” May 16).

Through the letter which Dwain handed to us, he has provided a detailed account of his doping programme, which highlights the level of sophistication that goes these systematic regimes. It is through this sort of information that we are able to better understand both the mindset of why athletes choose that path and the network that sits behind them. It is these networks of manufacture, trafficking and supply that we need to be able to tap into if we are to get to the heart of doping in sport.

Victor Conte (in a letter to sprinter Dwain Chambers) explained how easy it is for athletes to thwart anti-doping drug testers, even without designer steroids, using short-acting steroids and performance-enhancing drugs. It is called the “duck and dodge” technique (”Conte’s prescription for success,” May 16).

First, the athlete repeatedly calls their own cell phone until the message capacity is full. This way the athlete can claim to the testers that they didn’t get a message when they finally decide to make themselves available. Secondly, they provide incorrect information on their whereabouts form. They say they are going to one place and then go to another. Thereafter, they start using testosterone, growth hormone and other drugs for a short cycle of two to three weeks.

After the athlete discontinues using the drugs for a few days and they know that they will test clean, they become available and resume training at their regular facility.

Most athletes are tested approximately two times each year on a random out-of-competition basis. If a tester shows up and the athlete is not where they are supposed to be, then the athlete will receive a “missed test”. This is the equivalent to receiving “strike one” when up to bat in a baseball game.

The current anti-doping rules allow an athlete to have two missed tests in any given 18-month period without a penalty or consequence. So, the disadvantage for an athlete having a missed test is that they have one strike against them. The advantage of that missed test is the athlete has now received the benefit of a cycle of steroids. Long story short, an athlete can continue to duck and dodge until they have two missed tests, which basically means that they can continue to use drugs until that time.

It is unclear what action UK Sport (or WADA for that matter) will take to foil “duck and dodge” techniques that make beating anti-dopers “like taking candy from a baby.”