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Doping scandal guru says drugs still widespread in baseball

Victor Conte told USA Today that players had worked out how to elude testers.

Close-up of a baseball in a glove.
Close-up of a baseball in a glove.
Image: Chris And Kate Knorr

THE MASTERMIND OF the notorious BALCO doping scandal believes the explosion in home runs seen across baseball this season shows that athletes are continuing to use performance-enhancing drugs, a report said Monday.

Victor Conte, the founder of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative, told USA Today that baseball players had worked out how to elude drug-testers by varying the time and dosage of performance-enhancing substances.

Conte, 69, was jailed for four months in 2005 for his role in a notorious doping scandal which implicated baseball stars Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi and led to the downfall of Olympic track and field star Marion Jones.

However, Conte has continued to speak out on the subject of doping in baseball, and believes a recent spike in home runs is explained by drug use.

At the current pace, Major League Baseball is on target to record 6,668 home runs this year, nearly 1,100 more than last season, and 500 more than the all-time record of 6,105 set in 2017.

Some players and critics believe changes to baseballs used by the league are responsible for the rising homer rate.

Conte, however, believes drugs are behind the boom.

“There are guys using these drugs, really as many or more than ever before,” Conte told USA Today.

The difference is these guys not only understand how and when to take it, but what dosage and delivery level, and not test positive. Hey, good news travels fast, right?”

“Guys can’t take the large dosages they used to, but they’ve figured out how to circumvent the system rather easily, and are flying under the radar. That’s why you have so many guys (on pace for) 40 homers, but nobody is hitting 80.”

Conte said testing players at stadiums was ineffective.

Some performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) “are simply undetectable, and there are other ways that you can use PEDs and circumvent the testing,” Conte said.

“In the old days, before testing, you can load up on testosterone and it will keep your levels high 24 hours a day. Now, they use a fast-acting testosterone. You can take a little (lozenge), take a cream, and after four hours, it peaks, and comes down six or eight hours later.

“If baseball really wanted to bust their ass, you’d go to their house in the middle of the night or the first thing in the morning.”

Baseball has one of the toughest anti-doping regimes of any professional sport in the United States.

The league carried out more than 11,526 drug tests last year, and tested 2,244 blood samples for human growth hormone.

According to league figures, 11 adverse analytical findings were reported from the drug testing which led to sanctions.

Eight cases were for performance-enhancing substances, two for the diuretic furosemide and one for the stimulant amphetamine.

The performance-enhancing substances found included the steroid stanozolol and banned blood booster erythropoietin.

© – AFP, 2019

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