Clearly when we hear the name Marion Jones our heads are bound to shake in disappointment. So inspirational was her rise from college athlete to superstar Olympian that so many black female athletes looked up to her. We all know how it ended but today I want to talk about a guy named Victor Conte. Conte was the founder of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative, the lab that supplied performance enhancing steroids of Marion and her husband at the time C.J Hunter .Clearly C.J Hunter(a shot putter) was a dominant figure in Marion’s early career but Marion ended up doing time along with Conte. Who is Victor Conte? Vic is a musician turned nutritionist. He was charged with distributing the steroids and jailed in 2005. Athletes often hired nutritionists to get an edge over fellow competitors and possibly prolong their careers.
Anyway Vic later said that he supplied the drugs because he wanted to see if he can get away with it. Much like a curious scientist he is. Like any sensible businessman Conte saw a demand and simply provided the merchandise. Let’s face it here people if he didn’t provide these drugs someone would have, simple. He also alleges a cover up of other positive tests at Sydney 2000. That certainly cannot be discredited in my honest opinion. Sponsors have vested interest in athletes that they sponsor. Having invested money into them, not showing up(because of a ban) would have been a loss of profit. So the question remains to what extent did the investigators investigate the issue, did it go all the way to the top? I doubt that. Some people are untouchable, it is the small fish that fry.
When C.J tested positive for the steroid, Conte alleged that C.J had taken some nutritional supplements that contained it . Here is the funny thing about steroids. They have the same chemical structure as some supplements. So it is very much possible that Nandrolone could have been taken accidentally. It all comes back to who has burden of proof in this case C.J had and he failed to prove his innocence. People often ask why Marion ended up being jailed as well as Conte. It still caused an outrage even till today mainly because she was black and female. She didn’t actually go to jail for doping but for lying to federal agents about her not doping as well as check fraud.
People often ask so why didn’t Lance Armstrong get the same treatment. In the case of Lance, he was charged under a different Act(Lincoln Act) which is essentially defrauding a government body which carries no jail time. Unlike Conte he didn’t distribute the drugs. It might stink to high heaven but it is the PROSECUTOR’S DISCRECTION to prosecute steroid abuse cases so the prosecutor chose not pursue the matter for one reason or another. So did they go in too hard on Marion, maybe. Was it because of her race or gender? You be the judge. Lastly, in as much as an athlete trusts a coach or nutritionist, it is ultimately their responsibility to check and know what they are taking as a supplement. Similar to a scenario whereby a lawyer can advise a client on a matter but the client is responsible for what they end up saying on the stand. SUCH IS LAW. Victor is still in business to this very day, why that is so still boggles the mind.