Victor Conte, the convicted sports "health expert", has been ridiculed in the media and law system. And for good reason. He was behind the BALCO scandal that helped sports figures go undetected in their steroid testing.
But that was years ago, and Conte has a new stable of sports figures, most notably Andre Ward, who has recently won his first championship. He says that he is going the straight and clean way this time and is simply a health expert to his new stable. I would have to take the man for his word because he is now in the eyes of everyone.
But Conte weighed in on another huge and popular subject today. Mayweather-Pacquiao has been called off but his remarks tend to side with the blood testing. He feels that blood testing is necessary, but not for the reasons everyone thinks. And who knows better than Conte, if anything else, he was an expert in the art of making steroids undetectable.
He emailed Maxboxing,:"In my opinion, blood testing for the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight is more important for detecting possible blood doping or use of EPO than it is for human growth hormone. Measuring hematocrit levels (percentage of red blood cells to total whole blood volume) is very important. For example, even without a positive urine test for EPO, cyclist are temporarily suspended for two weeks if their hematocrit is greater than 50%. An elevated hematocrit can provide a significant advantage to a fighter by enhancing oxygen uptake and utilization. This would benefit a fighter in training and especially during the later rounds of a fight."
Many have been really suspicious about Manny Pacquiao's recent performances and the Mayweather camp has been especially suspicious. Olympic style drug testing was the biggest issue in and out of the fight negotiations leading some to believe that Pacqiao was "juicing"—meaning he is on a form of steroids or HGH(human growth hormone). But Conte believes that a blood test must be administered for the reason stated in his email.
Conte also said, "One, I think that increasing hematocrit levels, whether it's by traditional blood-doping or the use of EPO, is of greater benefit to a boxer than the use of growth-hormone," he explained."So growth-hormone is more of an anti-catobolic agent that may help to accelerate the healing of the tissue repair process. But growth-hormone is not anabolic as an anabolic steroid. It's an anti-catabolic agent and I believe that you don't get a very big bang for your buck. I'm not a huge fan of growth-hormone. I don't think it's tremendously beneficial performance enhancing substance.
EPO, though, in terms of boxing, is absolutely huge, both in training and as well as in a fight, especially during the later rounds."
Also Conte said that the tests needs to be random. It's the best way to do it.
"Otherwise," he explains,"it's what they call 'announced testing' and I've historically called that 'I.Q. testing'. So to apply that to other sports, it would be like showing up to training camp for Major League Baseball and they test you. That's announced testing. You have to be pretty dumb to show up at training camp or at 'announced testing' and test positive. The clearance time of most of these drugs that are out there are well known."
He also says that for these substances to be utilized at their maximum efficiency, they must be properly cycled and be out of your system by the time competition begins.
"Creams, transdurmals, clear the fastest. Orals, would be next. Water-based drugs- including testosterone- would be next, then the oil-based. So some of these can clear in a matter of hours and days," explained Conte."So if you know when you're going to be tested a week out, you go off the use of oral testosterone, for example, you're going to test negative. So that is really an issue."
According to him, "Traditional testing in boxing, it's basically worthless other than the detection of some types of stimulant, before and after a fight."
Athletes have been going undetected with the help of Conte, so his assessment can be believed thoroughly. I don't think he is taking any sides here but I think he knows what he is talking about.
He also stated,: "There's lots of loopholes. They call that the 'gold standard testing'. I've said this as far back as 2004, that there are huge loopholes that you can drive an equivalent of a Mack Truck through. the USADA testing is certainly better than what is used in professional sports but it's still relatively easy to beat the test," states Conte, who was also noted for working with baseball slugger Barry Bonds, during his assault on the record book." Now, I don't know in the case of this fight, but the reason is because you're allowed two missed tests and they can't come back the next day because you have to be allowed a hearing to provide your reasonable explanation or the 'exceptional circumstance' as they call it. So they'll just come back the next day and of course none of this is transparent. It's like being up to hit in baseball where you get two strikes and then you smack it out of the park and hit a home run. So it's still relatively easy to beat USADA testing and in this particular case, I do believe you need to have random, unannounced testing. To just say,'I'll be tested on this date', there's all sorts of things you can do with announced testing, you can't do with unannounced testing."
Makes you wonder.
Bryant Maxwell can be reached at email@example.com