September 21, 2014

The Real Reason Why the Barry Bonds Witch-Hunt Was a Waste of Money

If you think the government’s prosecution of Barry Bonds was justified because no on is above the law, perjury is a serious crime, yada, yada, yada, then this article is for you. You are entirely missing the point. The pursuit of Bonds was clearly a witch-hunt. Celebrity athletes who use anabolic steroids were an acceptable target. However, the government could have just as easily targeted an “immoral” behavior other than steroid use…

What if the government targeted prominent Christians and asked them about infidelity under oath? What if they prosecuted those Christians who would inevitably lie to protect their community standing and their families? After all, they did break they law – they committed perjury. Would that have been a good use of taxpayer money?

Why is it any different than the witch-hunt targeting celebrity athletes who use steroids? [Read more...]

Victor Conte Tells UK Sports How to Take Candy from a Baby

John Scott, the Director of Drug Free Sports at UK Sport, welcomed cooperation from sprinter Dwain Chambers and Victor Conte in sharing details of a sophisticated BALCO performance enhancing drug stack (“Statement regarding Dwain Chambers meeting,” May 16).

Through the letter which Dwain handed to us, he has provided a detailed account of his doping programme which highlights the level of sophistication that goes these systematic regimes. It is through this sort of information that we are able to better understand both the mindset of why athletes choose that path and the network that sits behind them. It is these networks of manufacture, trafficking and supply that we need to be able to tap into if we are to get to the heart of doping in sport.

Victor Conte (in a letter to sprinter Dwain Chambers) explained how easy it is for athletes to thwart anti-doping drug testers, even without designer steroids, using short acting steroids and performance enhancing drugs. It is called the “duck and dodge” technique (“Conte’s prescription for success,” May 16).

Cyclist Tammy Thomas Convicted of Perjury; Second Career Destroyed

Cyclist Tammy Thomas has been convicted on three counts of making false statements (perjury) and one count of obstruction of justice. She was acquitted of two counts of perjury (“Cyclist convicted of perjury in BALCO case,” April 4).

Under federal sentencing guidelines, Thomas faces a sentence that likely would range from probation to about two or three years in federal prison for the perjury convictions.

Thomas was specifically accused of lying to the grand jury about using steroids and obtaining performance enhancing drugs from Illinois chemist Patrick Arnold, a key Balco figure who pleaded guilty to manufacturing designer steroids and providing them to elite athletes through the now-defunct Peninsula laboratory.

Tammy Thomas already received a lifetime ban from competitive cycling for doping violations several years. This effectively ended her career as a cyclist. The conviction for perjury in the government’s case against Thomas may have effectively ended the pursuit of a second career as an attorney (“Tammy Thomas found guilty of perjury,” April 4).

“I already had one career taken away from me,” she yelled. “Look me in the eye. You can’t do it.”

Thomas then turned to a prosecutor and shouted, “Look me in the eye …. You like to destroy people’s lives.”

 The government has succeeded in its unstated goal of making an example of an athlete using steroids. Is this justice served?

Cyclist Tammy Thomas Awaits Jury Verdict

The jury in cyclist Tammy Thomas’ doping perjury trial did not reach a verdict after the first day of deliberations (“Thomas jury deliberations to continue,” April 3).

Thomas, whose case is the first to go to trial in the five-and-a-half-year Balco investigation, was charged with making false statements to a grand jury in 2003 about substances she is suspected of receiving from Arnold. For the jury to convict Thomas, it must conclude that her statements were false and that they were material to the government’s investigation.

I am certain that Tammy Thomas is anxiously awaiting the verdict. Not only is her freedom in jeopardy but also a future career as an attorney. She has been silent about the case and has not spoken to the media; however, she has been very outspoken in her fashion statements outside the courtroom where she was photographed wearing a San Francisco Giants baseball cap, no doubt in support of other athletes who have been targeted for perjury by this federal investigation. [Read more...]

Victor Conte BALCO Book Critical of Special Agent Jeff Novitsky

Victor Conte’s autobiographical account of the BALCO steroid scandal will hit bookstores in September 2008 (“BALCO founder Victor Conte has tell-all book ready,” March 30).

Slated for publication in September under the Skyhorse imprint, the book’s working title is “BALCO: The Straight Dope on Barry Bonds, Marion Jones and What We Can Do To Save Sports.” Conte, in conjunction with co-author Nathan Jendrick, promises to share “the dirt, the drugs, the doses, the names, dates and places, and a ‘prescription’ for a brighter future.”

He promises the “complete truth in its honest, unadulterated and raw form” and says he is “ready to tell the world everything.”

[Read more...]

Steroid Investigations and Trash Collection

IRS Special Agent Jeff Novitsky testified against cyclist Tammy Thomas at her perjury trial yesterday. Novitsky is a popular (and controversial) figure in the entire steroids in sports investigation. Thus, many observers were interested in his testimony. Reviewing the published accounts of Novitsky’s testimony, I found it particularly interesting how much incriminating evidence federal investigators found in BALCO’s trash.

Novitzky began searching through the trash behind the BALCO offices, learning when the company set garbage out and when it was collected. Each Monday night for a year, he hauled BALCO’s rubbish to a well-lit area nearby and sifted through it, he testified.

He found copies of e-mail messages and copious quantities of empty needle wrappers, he said. The latter led him to a medical-waste company where he found evidence of syringes, vials and performance-enhancing drugs that apparently originated at BALCO.

[Read more...]

Steroids and Dietary Supplement Regulation

Several blogs have been discussing Neil Levin’s criticism of inaccuracies reported by CNN.  Levin strongly criticized CNN for “preposterous,” “erroneous,” and otherwise “false claims” that dietary supplements are “unregulated” and/or free of “government supervision.” His blog entry goes on to cite the many ways that dietary supplements are regulated by the government. The lengthy entry, with several quotes from regulatory agencies gives the impression that the dietary supplement industry is tightly regulated.

While CNN is technically inaccurate, it is closer to the truth than Levin’s advocacy would suggest. From a consumer standpoint, I feel it is safer to assume that dietary supplements are unregulated. Most regulations are actually “post-marketing” measures i.e. very little prevents a new supplement from being sold in the marketplace. [Read more...]

Cheaters in the Doping Investigation

Much has been made of the lack of integrity in professional sports, most recently in baseball’s Mitchell Report, with revelations of widespread use of anabolic steroids, testosterone, and growth hormone. But few reporters seem to be interested in investigating the alleged improprieties of federal investigators involved in the crusade against doping in sports.

Roger Clemens’ defamation lawsuit against former trainer Brian McNamee vaguely hints at impropriety by federal investigators, including Jeff Novitsky, during their interrogation of McNamee. There is a long trail of alleged investigative misconduct that has followed Jeff Novitsky since the beginning of the BALCO scandal.
[Read more...]

Victor Conte, BALCO and Contextual Ads

If anyone thinks that the federal government, the anti-doping authorities, and the media have made an example out of the person who many consider to be architect of the largest anabolic steroid scandal in sports history, think again.

Victor Conte (owner of BALCO) bought a new silver Bentley Continental GT this year, his SNAC business is bringing in $300,000 a month, and some of his best customers are still major league baseball players.

I’ve recently discussed the role of the media and particularly the contextual internet ads from Google as having a big role in his success. Victor Conte attests to the power of contextual ads in the July 2007 issue of Muscular Development magazine: [Read more...]

Steroid News Stories and Contextual Ads

Google has made millions of dollars from companies selling steroids through Google’s contextual ad service. But Google was assisted by mainstream news outlets like NYTimes.com and CNN.com who displayed the ads offering “steroids for sale.”

Michael Arrington recently commented on this at TechCrunch:

The problem with automated advertising on news sites has always been the placing of inappropriate ads next to serious news issues.

Many news/media websites posted editorials complaining about the dangers of anabolic steroids and the role of the internet in facilitating steroid sales only to provide links for consumers to buy steroids (and receive payment from Google for displaying those links). [Read more...]