According to the Los Angeles Times, Victor Conte, the mastermind behind BALCO, is back in business and helping athletes. This time, he claims that everything he's doing with his new firm Scientific Nutrition for Advanced Conditioning, or SNAC, is 100% legal, and that he's on the straight and narrow. Andre Ward has admitted to using Conte's services in preparations for the Kessler fight, and Conte states in the article that he's also helped with Eddie Chambers.
For those who don't remember, BALCO was at the center of the mid-00's performance enhancing drug scandal. It's where a number of top athletes, including Barry Bonds, Marion Jones, Shane Mosley and others were alleged to have received steroids and other performance enhancing drugs. For most of these athletes, the story has been that they were duped by Conte and thought they were taking legal supplements. Conte's story has been that he was up front with the athletes and that they knew what they were doing was illegal all along. If Conte's story is true, then it lends a little more credibility to the idea that he could go straight. Per the article:
SNAC sells legal nutrition supplements, Conte says, and encourages use of a high-tech breathing machine for what he calls intermittent hypoxic training (IHT) that simulates high altitude and triggers the body's production of red blood cells....
But Ward said he used a $4,000 IHT unit from Conte for "about 10 or 11" of Conte's prescribed 15 daily treatments while preparing for his Nov. 21 win over Mikkel Kessler. Ward downplayed the IHT training in his win, although he said that, "By the 11th [round], I caught my second wind. That's when I caught" Kessler.
Said Conte about Ward's championship run: "It's worked exactly as I hoped it would."
Conte said he's provided his nutritional supplements to Ward and other athletes, including heavyweight boxer Eddie Chambers, who will fight Wladimir Klitschko for a world title in March.
Chambers says he uses many Conte products, from energy shakes to pills that help him recover from weight-lifting sessions and allow him to sleep better. He said he plans to use IHT training before the Klitschko bout.
"Victor's been through the depths of trouble," Chambers said. "For him to come back and try again, he has to be straight and prove himself because so many people are watching him."
Anti-doping authorities are more skeptical and think this is likely a scam by Conte. Whether or not IHT is real or is a scam, it takes some chutzpah to procure Conte's services and go public about it. Much like Margarito using illegal hand wraps, there's always going to be an implication and sneaking suspicion that if you're working with Conte, there's some kind of monkey business going on. I honestly hope that's not the case here, or that if it is, that the athletes aren't being duped. I believe in second chances, but this one's going to be hard to shake.