Why You Shouldn't Believe Marion Jones: Vol. 37

Story by Eric.

This is the 37th submission in a long series about Marion Jones, a former elite sprinter who won honour and earned endorsements, fame and fortune by method of fraud. This series continues with the Victor Conte story, one which categorically ties Marion Jones to steroids.

Marion Jones is also tied in to documents located at the BALCO site – documents which as of yet, most of which have been sealed and not provided to the public. Those documents were collected legally while carrying out due process of the law – with those verifications of fact not being suppressed from evidence used in non-analytical convictions.

Conte apparently, according to a personal federal deposition taken in 2003, received his one – and only – supply of “the clear” – a substance of which he states he does not know the exact contents – through from a man named Patrick Arnold for $450. “The clear”, according to a federal document, was apparently purchased by Conte “a couple of years” prior to 2003.

Marion Jones confessed of having used “the clear”.

Arnold has, on his own, stated he provided banned substances – norbolethone and THG – to coaches as well.

However, as part of his plea agreement, Arnold was not forced to name athletes and coaches to whom he gave drugs.

Track and field, especially the sprinters, they were more sophisticated in whom to seek out,” he offers as a hint.

The US Attorney’s office handed out an indictment to one of those athletes, cyclist Tammy Thomas, on 2006-December-14, stating that Thomas had lied to the Federal Grand Jury during 2003 testimony and had obstructed justice. She faces a 20-year prison sentence and a $1.000.000 fine for having committed perjury and obstruction. She was banned for life after testing positive in 2002 for norbolethone.

Arnold’s relationship with Conte began in 2000, but Conte began over-saturating the market.

It all started because Victor called me up and asked me if any of the prohormones I made could be used by athletes and not be detected. I told him, 'You shouldn't use them because I can't guarantee [that they won't be detected].' But this was a friend, a guy whose knowledge I respected, and so I also told him, 'A better way would be to try [norbolethone, which Arnold had synthesized in 1998], because I don't think it will show up on any drug test.' And that sort of opened up Pandora's box.

Too many [athletes] were getting too much better than the rest. Even before the government got involved, I felt Victor was making a mess of sports.” [1]

Conte states that there is a misconception of his having preyed upon, misleading and lying to athletes, something which he took to heart after reading Arnold’s words in the above mentioned Sports Illustrated story.

The misconception is that I was in some way preying upon these athletes, Conte says, or tricking them or misleading them in some way. If anything, I realized there was some responsibility and accountability involved in what I was doing. The athletes that I worked with that were involved in the case were all at least 25 years of age or older. Many of them were over 30. They're adults. And they know that there is a benefit.

Did I know that there were risks involved in what I was doing? Yes, I did. I just felt that somebody needed to look out for these athletes and help them, because one thing I do understand is too much is just as bad as not enough.” [2]

Conte stated in the deposition that he received the testosterone cream from a Dr. Renna of Texas, and ordered epitestosterone from a company named Sigma-Aldrich. A quick Google search on epitestosterone sigma-aldrich netted a Sigma-Aldrich website which lead one directly into a page specifically for epitestosterone, its molecular formula, and a link for pricing and availability. The combination of testosterone and epitestosterone were then sent to a friend of Patrick Arnold’s, Miles Wierre, who mixed the substances together and sent them back to Conte.

Blood samples from various athletes, according to the deposition, were sent in Federal Express packages from doctors around the United States. Athletes who visited the BALCO site were sent to Peninsula Hospital (now known as Mills-Peninsula Hospital) in Burlingame for blood tests with a pre-authorised signature-stamped blood withdrawal sheet from a Dr. Goldman – a medical doctor with a psychiatry specialty who has of late specialised in childhood autism.

Dr. Brian Halevie-Goldman, who was the medical director for BALCO, was accused of – and suspended for – gross negligence for allegedly providing the drug modafinil to an unnamed athlete, identified as K.W. to protect the integrity of her privacy, at Conte’s request – a procedure taken without ever examining K.W.

The medical board reviewing this case asserted in their accusation that after the unnamed athlete, K.W., tested positive for modafinil in August 2003, Halevie-Goldman alerted the athlete’s agents that he had dispensed modafinil samples to treat her narcolepsy – having never met her as a patient. [3]

Halevie-Goldman was subsequently suspended 2007-April-16 for 90 days and was put on five-years’ probation by the state Medical Board, ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation and had other restrictions imposed on his medical practice. The board stated he was guilty of “gross negligence” for misconduct in a high-profile sports doping case in 2003.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the board, in its decision, stated that Goldman “needs to gain insight into what caused him to participate in such unethical and dishonest conduct.” In addition to the psychiatric examination, the board ordered him to take a course in medical ethics. Goldman also must hire a physician to monitor his medical practice and make regular reports to the medical board. [4]

The American College of Sports Medicine, which has more than 20,000 members including doctors, physical therapists, certified personal trainers and nutritionists – but lacks an investigative division, pledged on 2007-July-16 to take a robust position against doping as part of a partnership with USADA.

We believe that the sphere of responsibility for illegal doping needs to be expanded beyond the athlete to those who aid and abet them in the process of cheating via the use of banned doping techniques,” ACSM president Robert Sallis said.

If we’re going to require ethical decision-making by athletes, we need to require it by their support personnel, especially the medical doctors,” USADA chief executive officer Terry Madden said. “Our work in the BALCO case over the past four years ... has taught us the importance of going after the suppliers and providers of performance-enhancing drugs. We need to redirect the focus.”

It’s extremely important that we get to the source. Athletes are not going to be able to have access to prohibited substances unless they have someone who’s helping them,” USADA’s board chairman Ralph Hale said. “And the biggest help right now tends to be people in the (medical) profession.” [5]

Arnold, a patriarch in drug masking, was sentenced on 2006-08-04 to three months in Federal prison, followed by three months of house arrest.

The San Francisco Chronicle, citing Arnold’s sentencing memorandum, state the following:

The defendant is a sophisticated person with a strong background in chemistry who applied his talents to the dangerous, untested and illegal manufacture and distribution of experimental 'designer' steroids to athletes,” federal prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

They added that Arnoldbears a heavy burden for his key role in effectively polluting professional sports with drugs which were designed to cheat the system and gain an unfair advantage.” [6]

Arnold was drawn to the BALCO scandal for much different reasons than was Conte. Arnold had a love and passion for science.

Conte suggests that the BALCO raid was done as a turf war between Trevor Graham and himself, and stated to ESPN The Magazine that he knew the BALCO raids were oncoming.

Conte states that he knew on 2003-September-3 the raid on his Burlingame laboratory was inevitable and was tipped by his post delivery person to the fact that Federal agents had been opening up Conte’s mail during the past year. Conte states he had learned from a local business owner that someone was going through Conte’s trash, because the owner called the BALCO Laboratory facility to accuse them of dumping their trash in his bin.

Conte states that seven black cars rushed into the parking lot at the BALCO site, and 26 IRS and San Mateo Narcotics Task Force agents “in flak jackets [came] pouring out, screaming and waving guns. A helicopter hovering overhead. A half-dozen news trucks filming it all. They were using a tank to kill a mosquito.”

Why, Conte asks?

For a turf war. The feds stumbled into a turf war.” [7]

Conte furthered those sentiments with the Times Online:

It was a complete inside job. Believe me, the doping officials would never have figured that out themselves. This was like East-West Coast gang warfare where they did a drive-by shooting. They realised that they couldn’t compete on the track and the only way for them to win was to turn me in.” [8]

“They” in this case being Trevor Graham and John Smith, as supported in the previous chapter.

Conte and his counsel had issued statements distancing Conte from any connection to certain athletes when Conte was questioned during the BALCO hearings. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Robert Holley, Conte’s attorney, believed the government to have had misrepresented Conte’s statements.

The government put their own spin on anything said by Victor Conte.”

Victor Conte adamantly denies he ever told the government anything about any specific athletes receiving steroids.” [9]

Conte offers more background on the apparent spin he believes was placed on him by the agents, stating in one example that it had been widely publicized in the media that he had confessed. Conte refuted that, stating that the “confession” was a lie, insofar as he stated he did not name names, nor snitch on certain athletes.

The lead IRS agent, Jeff Novitzky, divided a page into columns and wrote Track,” “Baseball and Football across the top of each. Then he mentioned some names. I said something like, Yeah, I worked with that person. I even mentioned a few he'd missed.

But what came out in the press?

Victor Conte said he gave The Clear and The Cream to all 27 of these athletes. An absolute lie. I've never met Jason Giambi or his brother, Jeremy. I've never shaken their hands. I've never talked to them on the phone. Why would I tell a police officer I gave drugs to somebody I've never met?” [10]

Agent Novitzky’s notations were part of a 93-page filing in U.S. District Court in the Northern District on Victor Conte’s behalf which sought to have all evidence in the case seized suppressed, with Conte’s attorneys stating that agent Novitzky failed to read Conte his Miranda rights.

The motion also charged that Novitzky, during the interview related to the case, illegally read some of Marion Jones’s Grand Jury testimony to Trevor Graham.

Novitzky's report on the interview, which is included with the suppression motion, stated that Graham read and commented on the part of Marion Jones’s testimony that related to him, stating that Graham had re-iterated that handwriting samples on the calendar attributed to him were indeed not his, nor had he ever ordered any tests for Marion Jones.


[1] Sports Illustrated, “Is This Dr. Evil”, 2006-10-03
[2] ESPN.com, “Bodybuilders, Vegas and Victor Conte … oh my!”, 2006-10-04
San Francisco Chronicle, “Doctor in BALCO steroids scandal could lose license”, 2006-09-08
San Francisco Chronicle, “Doctor who provided stimulant is suspended”, 2006-04-25
The Associated Press, “USADA takes doping fight to doctors”, 2007-07-16
San Fransico Chronicle, “BALCO steroid developer sentenced to prison term”, 2006-08-05
ESPN The Magazine, “Last Laugh”, 2004-12-20
[8] The Times Online, “Up and running once more…the man who allowed…”, 2005-05-16
San Francisco Chronicle, “Olympians got steroids. ..story 'character assassination'”, 2004-04-25
ESPN The Magazine, ”Last Laugh”, 2003-12-20

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