By Gabriel Montoya
This is an excerpt from my piece at Maxboxing.com “Andre Berto Tests Positive for the Molecule of the Month: Nadrolone.” The section explains the timeline and role anti-doping activist Victor Conte had or in the case of Andre Berto’s May 3 positive test for nandrolone. Mr. Berto’s positive sample was one collected in Winter Haven, Florida at a training camp Conte never visited.
From the piece:
The first thing that came to minds not paying attention to the anti-doping movement in sports in general and boxing specifically in the past few years was that nutrition guru and former BALCO owner Victor Conte had to be behind Berto’s positive test. Conte and Berto’s connection was made public last year in preparation for the September 3 bout for Jan Zaveck’s IBF welterweight title. Berto won in an excellent fight but relinquished the belt to rematch Victor Ortiz whom he had a Fight of the Year candidate with in April of 2011.
However, a review of the facts reveals that Mr. Conte is in fact no longer working with Andre Berto in the same capacity he was during Berto’s prep for Jan Zaveck. Mr. Conte released a statement to the press Friday that reiterated tweets he made Friday afternoon.
“I had absolutely nothing to do Andre Berto's positive drug test for nandrolone,” stated Conte. “Andre enrolled in the VADA drug testing program in early 2012. While using my nutritional products and protocols Andre's blood and urine were randomly tested twice before his recent bicep injury and all tests were negative. After his positive test was revealed, Andre admitted that he recently took some supplements that were not provided by me and did so without my knowledge. It is possible that one these supplements was contaminated with trace amounts of nandrolone and caused his positive test result. My understanding is that an investigation is being conducted in an attempt to determine the culprit. I was the person who encouraged Andre to enroll in the VADA program and I will continue to encourage athletes to do so. There have been hundreds of nandrolone positive drug tests in the past that I believe were a result of contaminated supplements. Nandrolone is the longest lasting anabolic steroid known to man and therefore it is unlikely that any elite athlete would ever use it in an attempt to cheat. However, the strict liability rule makes an athlete responsible for whatever is in their body regardless of how it got there. I do my best to help athletes to make good choices, but unfortunately they do not always listen to my advice.”
Conte was at the center of a firestorm that surrounded Barry Bonds and boxer Shane Mosley among other high profile elite athletes ensnared in the BALCO scandal. Conte ultimately served four months in a federal correctional institution with four months home arrest. He never turned anyone in and he didn’t provide evidence against anyone else in the case and instead accepted full responsibility.
In recent years, he has educated the public on performance enhancing drug issues through constant media interaction on stories ranging from the Ryan Braun case to PEDs in boxing. Conte has been ahead of the curve from warning anyone who would listen about the issues with testosterone abuse to the current therapeutic use exemption for the prescription testosterone problem sweeping combat sports. He has also been an advocate for using Carbon Isotope Ratio testing as far back as five years ago. This is a man WADA founding chairman Dick Pound entrusts to give advice and his ideas on strategy to catch drug cheats.
For the Zaveck fight, Berto and his trainer Tony Morgan worked out at the Undisputed Boxing Gym in Northern California. For his rematch with Ortiz, Berto changed locales. First he was in Los Angeles at the Ten Goose Boxing Club in Van Nuys. But a left biceps injury postponed the rematch with Ortiz. After he became healthy, Berto and his team returned home to Winter Haven, Florida to train near his home. A sample collected at the Winter Haven location May 3 is the one that resulted in the positive drug test far from Conte who has not visited that camp.
Understanding both the advanced methods Conte used in the BALCO case and the primitive drug nandrolone is, one need only to use logic to decipher Conte’s statement and the situation. At a time like this in boxing, self-education is essential before we move to judge.