THIS DOG HAS FLEAS
If you lay down with dogs you’re going to get fleas. The fleas are swarming from all directions in the wake of Major League Baseball’s Biogenesis scandal. All of a sudden Pete Rose is the go to authority on baseball suspensions, to the point of saying he should have gotten into drugs instead of gambling, he wouldn’t have gotten a lifetime ban. Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco are the preferred sources for discussing violations of the drug policy. Now a new flea has jumped off the dog. His name is Victor Conte. He’s the guy, you may recall, behind BALCO, the San Francisco bay area lab at the heart of the Barry Bonds, McGwire, Sammy Sosa steroid fueled home run derby. His clinic was closed down, he lost a fortune and went to federal prison. Conte has a new clinic, Scientific Nutrition for Advance Conditioning (SNAC), in partnership with his daughter. He says the clinic is clean and totally legal and, as can be expected with his history, has the contstant scrutiny to prove it. Conte says he’ll deal only with athletes looking for legal methods of enhancing their performances and he does his own state of the art blood testing to confirm they are clean. A recent client, recommended to him by former Rockville High School football star Bill Romanowski, was Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriquez. Conte admits to meeting with Rodriquez in secret, both understanding the field day the media would have with the information. In an interview with the New York Daily News Conte said he believed A-Rod was looking for ways to enhance his performance through the use of legal supplements. In a subsequent interview with ESPN, Conte was asked the most compelling question, whether his blood test of Rodriquez turned up any evidence that the Yankee third baseman had been using illegal performance enhancing drugs. Conte was guarded in his answer, indicating he was ethically bound to certain confidentialities, but, without going into specifics, he said in the testing process there are a number of markers that are looked for that tip off the use of illegal performance enhancers and, answering the question from that standpoint, there were no such indications in A-Rod’s blood. As logical as it is to understand that Victor Conte would take great measures now to protect his own reputation and, more importantly, that of his daughter and their business, it’s distasteful to look to him for answers in Major League Baseball’s investigation of Rodriquez, which does have a hole or two in it when one asks why A-Rod, who, under the terms of the drug policy, is like the players who faced only 50 game suspensions, a zero time prior offender, faces a longer suspension. If there is evidence that Rodriquez violated terms of the labor agreement, why hasn’t it been presented to prevent him from playing during the appeals process? Victor Conte is one of the fleas that jumped off the dog Major League Baseball lay down with when blind eyes were turned to a very obvious problem, but it doesn’t keep him from being a compelling figure with compelling insights. As distasteful as it may be to attach credibility to anything he has to say after his involvement in that problem, it opens up questions about giving Alex Rodriquez just a slight benefit of a doubt while the process plays out. In our system everyone is entitled to one. In this case even Bud Selig is being given the benefit of a doubt. Talk about a dog with fleas. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.