Doper turned informer, Conte offers to help clean up sport

Mon Aug 8, 2016 10:45am EDT
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By Steve Keating

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Victor Conte is back in business - and this time he says it's legal.

    The man who was jailed a decade ago for helping athletes be faster, higher, stronger by supplying them with illegal steroids is now providing nutritional supplements to a new generation of elite athletes, mostly from boxing and mixed martial arts.

Conte says his supplement firm, SNAC, is on track for $5 million in sales this year. Based in San Carlos, California, it is just a few miles from his now-defunct BALCO lab, infamous for cooking up the biggest sport drugs scandal in the United States.

But unlike BALCO, he explains, all the products on the warehouse shelves of SNAC, or Scientific Nutrition for Advanced Conditioning, meet global anti-doping standards.

    Conte, who served four months in a federal prison in 2006 for supplying performance-enhancing steroids to dozens of athletes, says all that remains of BALCO is memorabilia: a rouges gallery of drug cheats that hangs on his office walls.

    There are framed and signed pictures of former clients such as Major League baseball's home-run king Barry Bonds and disgraced sprint queen Marion Jones. They hang alongside the autographed jersey of National Football League admitted doper Bill Romanowski and other grid iron greats.

"In my own mind it is a small form of restitution," Conte told Reuters. "I caused a lot of damage, I harmed a lot of people, I'm trying to help others not go through what happens when you go down that slippery slope.

    "I accepted full consequences and went to prison."   Continued...

Victor Conte, CEO of SNAC (Scientific Nutrition For Advanced Conditioning) System and founder of the BALCO Laboratories, stands for a portrait inside a custom altitude chamber at his office in San Carlos, California, U.S. August 2, 2016. Picture taken August 2, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam