By Steve Kim
Victor Conte is certainly no stranger to PED controversies.
The former head of BALCO has now re-invented himself as an anti-drug crusader of sorts in the sport of boxing and in recent years has supervised the strength-and-conditioning of boxers at his SNAC gym in Northern California.
Currently one of them is Demetrius Andrade, who was scheduled to face WBO middleweight belt-holder Billy Joe Saunders next weekend in Boston - but Saunders was denied a boxing license by the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission on Tuesday after he tested positive for Oxilofrine (a banned stimulant under the VADA guidelines).
So did Conte agree with this edict?
He told BoxingScene.com - "I have to tell you that I wanted to see Demetrius beat him and win the title in the ring, however, they agreed to do VADA testing, they signed the enrollment forms, they were given the 'prohibited substances' list. This potent stimulant was on the list and then Billy Joe Saunders tested positive for it.
''So really I don't see any other choice if they are going to consider VADA as the new gold-standard, which I believe it is and we don't have this in-and-out of competition testing and from the time they sign the agreement until they step into the ring and even afterwards that there will be testing for this complete list of substances not just this smaller list out-of-competition. I understand they pretty much had to rule the way that they did. So I think it's great for the anti-doping movement and for boxing."
Conte believes that in situations like this, there should be strict liability. That if a banned substance is in your system that you are responsible for it, regardless of how much or how it got there.
"I do believe in strict liability," he stated, before adding, "however I believe that they have what they call 'exceptional circumstances' and you can provide evidence that you unknowingly or unwittingly took this and you could produce the same of the nasal spray or inhaler or whatever it was - or a contaminated supplement - and you have some evidence to present. Then that can in certain cases could mitigate or reduce the consequences.
But Conte pointed out, "In this particular case, what's there to reduce? They chose not to give him a license. So this isn't like in the case with (Saul Alvarez) 'Canelo' where they could've given him a year, they could've given him six months, they could've given him three years. He ended up getting six months. So in these cases when you can present some credible evidence that supports your argument then you could possibly mitigate or reduce the sentence.
"In this case he never had a license so they decided not to give him one. So it is what it is and I think the fact that there was a signed agreement and he knew that this was on the list - it's either you're pregnant or you're not."
It's not clear if the WBO will strip Saunders of his belt. As for Andrade, who is ranked first by the WBO at 160)it looks like he'll be facing the second ranked, Walter Kautondowko.
Conte says Andrade,"is ready for either or, he's prepared for both. I know Demetrius quite well and he's going to step up and fight whoever they put in front of him. He knows that there was a chance that it could go either way. So now his focus will be to fight his opponent on October 20th."
Steve Kim is the news editor for BoxingScene.com