Trust the guy in the black hat. He is here to help you clean up your messes.
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Victor Conte, BALCO founder and the center of the sports world’s PED narrative, saw Melky Cabrera’s doping bust coming. And with Cabrera, the MVP candidate, out for the season, Conte points the finger …
At Bud Selig.
“Would you like to clean up Major League Baseball?’’ Conte said Thursday. “See if he (Commissioner Selig) is really prepared to make baseball the toughest drug-testing program in American sports, like he says.’’
Conte said that Cabrera was following the latest doping trend in sports: fast-acting, synthetic testosterone gels, creams or patches that work through the body and return a player to the level that will pass a baseball doping test in just six hours.
It’s so easy, Conte said, that he estimates up to 50 percent of baseball’s players are still doping. And he’s suspicious about why Selig isn’t doing anything about it.
What can Selig do about a doping cycle that doesn’t outlast a night’s sleep?
Simple. As it is, Conte said, a player can have nearly four times the usual amount of testosterone in his system before registering a positive on baseball’s doping test. Then, and only then, he said, baseball goes to the “nail-in-the-coffin test,’’ carbon isotope ratio (CIR) screening, which judges definitively how much testosterone in the body is synthetic.
Just use the CIR test from the start, Conte said.
“They are now, for whatever reason, not paying attention to what I’m telling them,’’ Conte said. “Time for Bud Selig to open his ears, forget who the messenger is, and listen to the message.’’
Actually, it’s time for more than that.
In the movie “Catch Me If You Can,’’ Tom Hanks plays an FBI agent who chases Leonardo DiCaprio, master counterfeiter, all over the world. When DiCaprio finally is caught, he is basically hired by Hanks to use his expertise to help the FBI. (True story of Frank Abagnale Jr.)
Selig needs to hire Conte. Yes, Conte is the bad guy. He spent time in prison for steroid trafficking. He talks about his trip “down the slippery slope,’’ and knows a lot of people think he single-handedly brought down baseball.
But he also is the guy who figured out how to beat the system’s steroid tests. It’s just so easy, he said.
Instead, baseball is turning the Cabrera case into a defining moment, publicly ripping into Conte, discrediting him, burying its head.
You could look back to stories from years ago, take out the word “Canseco,’’ and replace it with “Conte.’’ MLB tried to discredit Canseco years ago when he talked about baseball’s rampant steroid problem. It turned out that he was the one guy telling the truth.
Now, on a day when baseball takes down its fourth player of the year, it can’t even claim success in its testing program. Conte steps up, MLB goes right back down the same, old path of denial.
Why not just say: “Our program is clearly having some success. But if Conte knows of something else going on, then we’re going back on the attack again’’?
They say the doping cheats are always one step ahead of the testers. Time to bring in someone from the winning team, then.
“Bottom line,’’ Conte said. “Passing the (test) is like taking candy from a baby.’’
But if it’s so easy, then why did Cabrera fail?
“We don’t know the specifics now,’’ Conte said. “When more information comes out, I’ll be able to tell you how dumb he really is. He’s dumb to be caught in the first place.
“He has to be able to talk to someone who understands the clearance time of these substances.’’
The only way to fail the test being used now, Conte said, is to have a 4:1 testosterone ratio, meaning you have to have four times as much of the stuff in your system as usual.
Conte said most players, and likely Cabrera, put on a testosterone patch after a game. Four hours after you put it on, he said, your testosterone level is at its highest. Six hours later, it is low enough to pass a baseball doping test.
“Then,’’ he said, “it’s all the way back to baseline in about eight hours.’’
When a player fails the test, he said, baseball goes to the CIR screening. Why not just go with it to start? Conte said baseball has complained about the cost of the CIR test, which he said is $400.
But he also said the league’s HGH testing will cost $400 a test, and that’s “mainly propaganda.’’ He says HGH is not even anabolic and has not been proven to help athletic performance.
So baseball, he said, is putting the money toward the wrong test just to make itself look good.
Conte worked at BALCO with Marion Jones, Shane Mosley and Barry Bonds, and “no one in the four years they were with me ever failed a test.’’
But what is he hoping to get out of standing up now?
Conte said he was wrong to do what he did with BALCO, and he hurt players, families and even his own family. Now, he said, he wants to help the clean athletes by uncovering the cheats.
He said he has turned into a good guy and asks for a second chance.
Good guy, bad guy, it doesn’t matter. Conte said he isn’t for hire for MLB anyway, but will gladly talk with them for free.
“I learned a lot,’’ he said, “about where these loopholes are.’’
What is the cost of letting him explain how to close them … if that’s what you really want.