Conte, Pound meet but no athletes are named
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.
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
"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 baseball players.
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 anti-doping effort.
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.''
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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