Conte rails at leaks, says baseball should just release names
Victor Conte read that the sources who leaked to the New York Times the names of Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz as performance-enhancing drug users in 2003 were lawyers and immediately suspected his old nemeses were involved.
"This isn't coming from baseball, it's more likely coming from the government," said Conte, the former head of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO), whose client list included Barry Bonds, Marion Jones, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield.
The federal government's investigation of BALCO was also besieged by leaks, most notoriously by Conte's former attorney, Troy Ellerman, who served more than a year behind bars for his transgression of giving the San Francisco Chronicle grand jury transcripts. Conte served four months in federal prison for steroid distribution and money laundering.
Conte says this latest leak, which followed prior leaks of the names of New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez and former Chicago Cubs star Sammy Sosa earlier this year from 2003 samples that were supposed to remain anonymous, said the motives of the anonymous sources must be assessed.
"What is the motive? The same motive you have with Barry Bonds being charged with perjury when others have done the same thing and not been charged," Conte said. "It seems to be about publicity, [the government] justifying its existence after spending all these millions on this case."
The government did get access to the 103 names of those who tested positive in 2003 as a result of its BALCO/Bonds investigation. A retested sample of Bonds' sample came back as being positive for performance-enhancing drugs, the feds reported in court records.
Given Ellerman's jail time, Conte says, such discipline should apply to whomever is responsible for leaking these names. "This is a crime, these athletes have rights," Conte said.
Beyond that, as he inspected a friend's recent Twitter post saying that "Steroids have become as big a part in baseball as hot dogs and the seventh-inning stretch," he recommends that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig unveil the entire list of 2003 positives rather than continue to be embarrassed by the names "dribbling" out there a bit at a time.
"Selig needs to organize all the parties concerned and let it all out there one day, and then the healing process can begin," Conte said. "That's to the benefit of all parties."
-- Lance Pugmire
Photo: Victor Conte arrives at Federal Court in San Francisco on Dec. 1, 2004. Credit: Jeff Chiu / Associated Press