The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) ignored advice intended to help the agency catch more athletes guilty of using steroids and performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) according to Victor Conte. Even worse, rather than heed his advice, WADA did the opposite. This made it easier for steroid-using athletes to evade detection at the the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
Conte had a series of meetings with Dick Pound after he completed his prison sentence arising from his conviction in the BALCO steroid scandal. (Pound was the president of WADA up until the end of 2007.) Conte provided detailed information about how athletes were using PEDs and how they were avoiding detection. Conte provided two significant suggestions for making anti-doping procedures more effective at the Beijing Olympics.
First, Conte explained the limitations of the testosterone:epitestosterone (T:E) ratio test. The T:E ratio was the standard screen used by WADA to detect the exogenous use of testosterone. The problem was that there were too many loopholes that allowed athletes to continue to use testosterone while avoiding detection.
Conte was intimately familiar with the use of transdermal testosterone (in particular, transdermal testosterone with the addition of epitestosterone) as a trick used by athletes. A testosterone and epitestosterone mixture comprised the BALCO steroid that became popularly known as “The Cream”. Additional methods of passing the T:E ratio screen included micro-dosing with testosterone gels and patches. Conte suggested that the archaic T:E ratio be abandoned in favor of carbon isotope ratio (CIR) testing.
Additionally, Conte explained the manner in which athletes cycle anabolic steroids and other muscle-building drugs during the off-season. This power-building-cycle period is where most of the drugs are used. The benefits of these cycles are realized during competition when PED use is eliminated or minimized. If WADA wanted to catch more steroid users, they should increase the number and frequency of testing during the power-building period.
“Here’s where you’re not getting it right: when you build your explosive strength and speed and power base is October, November, December. Eight months later, they’re winning gold medals based on the (illegal) drugs they used nine months ago,” Conte told WADA. “So you don’t need to be testing at the Games. … You need to stick your hook and line and pole in the pond during this (earlier) time frame. I know, because I was preparing people this way.”
WADA and Pound were very receptive to Conte’s advice. However, once Pound stepped down as president of WADA in 2007, his successor promptly ignored and disregarded everything Conte had recommended. John Fahey, the next WADA president, didn’t feel WADA should heed the advice of a convicted steroid dealer. Instead, Fahey chose to listen to doctors who lacked any practical, hands-on experience in the real world of doping.
WADA under Fahey did exactly the opposite of what Conte suggested they do in the run up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics: They reduced the number of off-season tests and increased the number of in-competition testing.
“What does that tell you?” asked Conte. “I just find this highly suspicious. Why would you do that? Is that smart business?”
Conte wondered whether this was intentional.
Ostler, S. (July 14, 2012). Victor Conte says Olympic doping goes on. Retrieved from http://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Victor-Conte-says-Olympic-doping-goes-on-3707871.php