Long before Biogenesis, there was the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative, and now BALCO is back in the news.
Beginning in the early 2000s and continuing for several years, BALCO founder and owner Victor Conte and a number of his associates distributed human growth hormone and “the clear” to a number of professional athletes. The lab was under government investigation since 2003, but it was Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada‘s book Game of Shadows that truly exposed its illegal actions.
Athletes caught up in the BALCO scandal include Marion Jones, Jason Giambi and, most famously, Barry Bonds.
During the 2012 Major League Baseball season, Alex Rodriguez sought out the advice of Conte, according to The New York Daily News. Rodriguez is said to have asked about legal performance enhancers that could give him an edge on the diamond.
Rodriguez was led to Conte by former NFL linebacker Bill Romanowski, according to The Daily News. Rodriguez tried to keep the meeting as quiet as possible, acknowledging that contact between the two parties would not look good publicly.
“He was real secretive,” Veronica Conte, Victor Conte’s daughter, said. “He wanted to make sure no one was here.
“’If the media knew I was talking to you, that would be bad. We both have these histories,’” Veronica Conte says Rodriguez said. “He was basically saying, ‘I can’t have any trace of Victor Conte.’”
Last week, Conte met with MLB investigators for two hours about his consult with Rodriguez, according to the report. Conte says Rodriguez had been trying to meet with him for months before finally getting together the day before the Yankees began a three-game set against the A’s in Oakland.
“I was eager to meet with [MLB] because I wanted to answer their questions [about Rodriguez],” Conte told The Daily News. “I also wanted to give my input and have them take it back to [commissioner] Bud Selig. I wanted to share my ideas about improving Major League Baseball’s drug program. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for a long time.”
Conte stressed that his meeting with Rodriguez was only about legal products.