Marlon Byrd not 'afraid' of Victor Conte

Updated: February 16, 2011, 5:34 PM ET
ESPNChicago.com

Marlon Byrd is a big believer in Victor Conte, even if he stands alone.

Byrd To be honest with you, he could tell me how to beat the system. But then he would have to put himself in that situation again. He wouldn't want to do that, and I wouldn't want to do that.

-- Marlon Byrd on Victor Conte

The Chicago Cubs center fielder said on an episode of HBO's "Real Sports" that aired Tuesday that he is the only player in baseball who still works with Conte, whose Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative triggered a federal investigation of steroids use and distribution among athletes.

Byrd reported to Cubs camp in Mesa, Ariz., on Wednesday and stood by his comments.

"To be honest with you, he could tell me how to beat the system. But then he would have to put himself in that situation again," Byrd said. "He wouldn't want to do that, and I wouldn't want to do that."

Byrd and Conte were featured in the "Real Sports" episode. Conte served jail time in 2005 for conspiracy to distribute steroids and money laundering.

Byrd, who began a program of supplements created by Conte three years ago when Byrd was with the Texas Rangers, said he has heard from Major League Baseball about his relationship with Conte.

"[They said] 'Why in the world are you working with Victor Conte? It was a choice I made, to work with him," Byrd told "Real Sports." "It's me believing in him which a lot of people do not.

"I'm not afraid of Victor Conte."

Byrd, who has never failed a drug test, said he chose to participate in the HBO program to show fans what athletes do to play every day.

"Everybody knows I work with Victor Conte," he said. "This is nothing new. That came out in 2009. I wanted to get that out there. I wanted people to see exactly what I do and at the same time know Victor is involved. When people see what athletes do, they will have more appreciation of what we do to get on the field every day, every single day, and be the best we can be."

After a career-best season in 2009 with the Rangers (.289, 20 home runs and 89 RBIs), Byrd, 32, signed a three-year contract with the Cubs as a free agent. He was the Cubs' lone All-Star last season, batting .293 with 12 homers and 66 RBIs.

Conte's business now goes by the acronym SNAC, standing for Scientific Nutrition for Advanced Conditioning and is based in San Carlos, Calif. He told ESPN.com in 2009 that he works with more athletes than just Byrd, including NFL players, Olympic track and field athletes and swimmers.

Byrd said Wednesday he was the one who first contacted Conte after Byrd noticed many of the nutritional store supplements he was taking were showing up on baseball's banned substance list.

"Instead of me being dumb and just trying different things, I wanted to reach out to somebody so I didn't test positive," Byrd said. "It took him about a year just to trust me. He didn't want to be associated with anyone that might get him in trouble."

Manager Mike Quade said he wasn't well-schooled on the supplement issue.

"Marlin is a huge part of this club and I expect him to take care of his own business," Quade said. "It does me no good to concern myself with any of that. ... I trust my players and trust them do what is right and be ready to perform and he's done nothing but show me that."

Asked if he knew about Conte's background, Byrd said: "Don't you think I did my background? I'm a pretty smart guy. I'm not just going to go to Victor. I did my background about him too."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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