Despite Vouching From Berto and Others, Victor Conte Will Always Be Suspect

Andre Berto is not letting anyone stick needles in his ass. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Andre Berto, one of several highly-regarded boxers who now employ the services of former BALCO head Victor Conte, once again defended his partnership with Conte, whose old lab was linked to the likes of Shane Mosley, Barry Bonds, Marion Jones, and Jason Giambi, among other notable athletes. The BALCO scandal rocked the sports world

Here's what Berto said to David Rosenberg:

"He’s had a rough past but I know everything he’s done [with me] is legal. ... If someone is sticking a needle in your ass, you know that something is different. I know that what I’m doing is legit. No one’s sticking a needle in my ass."

Ah, well then. That clears it up and now any concerns anyone could have are surely gone. There is no one sticking a needle in Andre Berto's ass, and there's no way to use a performance-enhancing drug without having a needle stuck in one's ass, so that's good. Forget all about anything you've ever thought about Victor Conte, folks. Andre Berto's ass is needle-less, so we're good here. Nothing to worry about.

Obviously, what I'm saying is that Berto's ass not having needles in it should not relieve all worry. Victor Conte is questionable, will always be questionable, and athletes who choose to work with him will be questioned about the questionable guy. There's no question about that.

With BALCO shut down years ago, and Conte having served a short prison sentence, the controversial Conte now runs a company called Scientific Nutrition for Advanced Conditioning (SNAC), and on their web site, you can still buy a BALCO t-shirt, with the tagline, "Are you ready for some designer gear?" It's cute. I get it. Own your past and all that.

And for the record, I'm not saying that I think Berto is cheating with Conte, or that any of Conte's other fighters (Nonito Donaire, Andre Ward, Zab Judah) or Conte-associated athletes in other sports are cheating, either. But they will have to hear the questions, and until there is better drug testing in boxing, there will always be doubters.

They all say they'd adhere to drug testing any time, but you know who never failed a drug test for steroids? Shane Mosley, Barry Bonds (Bonds did fail a test for amphetamines in 2006), Jason Giambi, and Marion Jones. It's something they'll have to live with if they're going to work with Victor Conte. It's a reality. And I'm starting to wonder if it's better if they all just say they're sick of answering the questions and go on to the next one, because I'm not sure they're convincing anyone by vouching for Conte so often.

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