In a meeting hardly anyone could have imagined a few years back,
BALCO founder Victor Conte and World Anti-Doping Agency chairman
Dick Pound sat down Wednesday for their first face-to-face
discussion about doping in sports.
During the two-hour meeting in Manhattan, they didn't discuss
specific cases or name any names, but had what both termed a frank
conversation they hope will lead to a more productive relationship.
"We talked about the macro and systemic problems and his
perspective on that, his thoughts on how we could get better at
what we do,'' Pound said. "I think we'll probably stay in touch.
We'll try to build up a relationship where he'll have confidence in
me using the information he has in the right way. We'll try to get
a better handle on what he knows directly and what he knows as
having been part of an overall operation.''
Conte, who pleaded guilty to operating a steroids distribution
ring at the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, said Pound asked him
what he would change if he were "king of the world in anti-doping
for a day.''
"As someone who was able to evade their system for so long, it
was easy for me to point out the many loopholes that exist and
recommend specific steps to improve the overall effectiveness of
their program,'' Conte said in a statement. "Because Mr. Pound was
so receptive to the insight I provided, I do believe there will be
effective changes made that will benefit of the world of sport.''
Conte was released from prison last year after serving four
months. BALCO supplied a wide assortment of performance-enhancing
drugs _ including previously undetectable "designer'' steroids _
to track and field athletes, as well as professional football and
He continues to sell legal nutritional supplements from the same
building that once housed BALCO in Burlingame, Calif. He said
earlier in the week that some of the poor decisions he's made in
the past made him uniquely qualified to contribute to the
Pound, who steps aside as WADA chairman at the end of the year,
said he had read in media reports that Conte had expressed
willingness to help but had never been called.
"Well, I'm not going to let my presidency expire with that,''
Pound said earlier in the week.
After the meeting, as he got ready to fly back home to Montreal,
Pound said he was glad he made the effort.
He said he views Conte as a credible source despite his past.
"He's credible in the sense of knowing what has happened and
what was going on,'' Pound said. "He was right there at the
cutting edge of a lot of this stuff. In that sense, talking with
someone who knows what he's talking about, I take him at his word.
"It's part of something he did in the past. That's behind him,
and he'd like to now do what he can to make things work better.''
The meeting came a day before the scheduled release of the
Mitchell Report, an investigation into drugs in baseball. Pound, a
frequent critic of baseball's handling of its doping problem, said
that wasn't a prime topic of conversation with Conte, and that he
wasn't expecting much new information out of the report.
"It will be what it will be,'' Pound said. "I think they've
been appalling in how they've gone at this whole thing.''