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SPIEGEL: What kind of relationship did you have with your athletes?
Heredia: Business ties. It was all about levels and dosing. I rarely spoke with Marion. It was done through her coaches.
Part II: How Heredia outwitted the drug testers and became the dealer to the world’s best athletes.
SPIEGEL: Was there a doping cycle?
Heredia: Yes. When the season ended in October, we waited for a couple of weeks for the body to cleanse itself. Then in November, we loaded growth hormone and epo, and twice a week we examined the body to make sure that no lumps were forming in the blood. Then we gave testosterone shots. This first program lasted eight to ten weeks, then we took a break.
SPIEGEL: And then the goals for the season were established?
Heredia: Yes, that depended on the athlete. Some wanted to run a good time in April to win contracts for the tournaments. Others focused on nothing but the trials, the U.S. qualification for international championships. Others cared only about the Olympics. Then we set the countdown for the goal in question, and the next cycle began. I had to know my athletes well and have an overview of what federation tested with which methods.
SPIEGEL: Where does one get this information?
Heredia: Vigilance. Informers.
SPIEGEL: You were once a good discus thrower yourself.
Heredia: Very good in Mexico, but very average by international standards. I had played soccer, boxed and done karate before I ended up in track and field. At 13 or 14 I believed in clean sports. Doping was a crime to me; back then I even asked my father if I could take aspirin.
SPIEGEL: Why did you begin doping?
Heredia: Like all athletes: because others were doing it. All of a sudden, kids that I used to beat were throwing ten meters further. Then I had an injury but I wanted to qualify for the Olympic team anyway. Doping became to me what it is for most athletes: part of the sport. If you train for 12 hours today and your trainer expects you to train for 12 hours again tomorrow, you dope. Otherwise you can’t do it.
SPIEGEL: What did you take?
Heredia: Growth hormone. Testosterone.
SPIEGEL: But you failed to qualify for the Olympics anyway.
Heredia: Yes, but I read anything I could find about medicine, spoke with other athletes, and soon people were saying: Angel knows how it’s done. He knows how to pass the tests. The first athletes began to ask me for advice. That’s how it started, and at some point the trainer Trevor Graham asked me if I could help him. I explained to him how epo works, and I was in business.
SPIEGEL: What qualified you for the role of dealer to the world’s best athletes?
Heredia: My father is a chemistry professor. I love chemistry, and I was an athlete. My role was an obsession. For example, I learned everything about testosterone: that there is a type of testosterone with a high half-life and another that works very quickly. I learned that you can rub it in, take it orally, inject it. It became a kick: I was allowed to work with the best of the best, and I made them even better.
SPIEGEL: And how did you become the best in your world?
Heredia: With precision. You want an example? Everyone talks about epo. Epo is fashionable. But without adding iron, epo only works half as well. That’s the kind of thing you have to know. There are oxygen carriers that make epo work incredibly fast – they are actually better than epo alone. I call my drug “Epo Boost.” I inject it and it releases many tiny oxygen molecules throughout the body. In that way you increase the effect of epo by a factor of ten.
SPIEGEL: Do you have any other secrets?
Heredia: Oh yes, of course. There are tablets for the kidneys that block the metabolites of steroids, so when athletes give a urine sample, they don’t excrete the metabolites and thus test negative. Or there is an enzyme that slowly consumes proteins - epo has protein structures, and the enzyme thus ensures that the B sample of the doping test has a completely different value than the A sample. Then there are chemicals that you take a couple of hours before the race that prevent acidification in the muscles. Together with epo they are an absolute miracle. I’ve created 20 different drugs that are still undetectable for the doping testers.
SPIEGEL: What trainers have you worked together with?
Heredia: Particularly with Trevor Graham.
SPIEGEL: Graham has a lifetime ban because he purportedly helped Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery, Justin Gatlin and many others to cheat. Who else?
Heredia: With Winthrop Graham, his cousin. With John Smith, Maurice Greene’s coach. With Raymond Stewart, the Jamaican. With Dennis Mitchell ...
SPIEGEL: ... who won gold in the 4 x 100 meters in 1992 and today is a coach. How did the collaboration work?
Heredia: It’s a small world. It gets around who can provide you with something how quickly and at what price, who is discreet. The coaches approached me and asked if I could help them, and I said: yes. Then they gave me money, $15,000 or thereabouts, we got a first shipment and then we did business. At some point it led to one-on-one cooperation with the athletes.
SPIEGEL: Was there a regimen of sorts?
Heredia: Yes. I always combined several things. For example, I had one substance called actovison that increased blood circulation – not detectable. That was good from a health standpoint and even better from a competitive standpoint. Then we had the growth factors IGF-1 and IGF-2. And epo. Epo increases the number of red blood cells and thus the transportation of oxygen, which is the key for every athlete: the athlete wants to recover quickly, keep the load at a constantly high level and achieve a constant performance.
SPIEGEL: Once again: a constant performance at the world-class level is unthinkable without doping?
Heredia: Correct. 400 meters in 44 seconds? Unthinkable. 71 meters with a discus? No way. You might be able to run 100 meters in 9.8 seconds once with a tailwind. But ten times a year under 10 seconds, in the rain or heat? Only with doping.