Victor Conte: Where is BALCO’s Founder Now?

Directed by Bryan Storkel, Netflix’s ‘Untold: Hall of Shame’ is a sports documentary movie that catches up with the various people involved in the infamous sports doping scandal concerning the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO). This BALCO scandal led to many top athletes admitting to using performance-enhancing substances via the means provided to them through the company’s Founder, Victor Conte Jr, who also features in the film.

Who is Victor Conte?

Born in 1950 in Fresno, California, Victor Conte Jr was the oldest child of Shirley and Victor Conte Sr and grew up alongside two younger siblings. The McLane High School graduate went on to become a student at Fresno City College but dropped out in 1969 to become a bass player for Common Ground, having been motivated to do so by his cousin and fellow musician Bruce Conte. Nicknamed the “Walking Fish,” Victor ended up switching to the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1970 but left the group before 1977. But this year, he joined Tower of Power and stayed a part of this band until 1979, working alongside names like Herbie Hancock and Sugarcane Harris.

Realizing the potential of supplements in the world of sports, Victor eventually started educating himself regarding nutrition and what the industry entailed. This led him to establish the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) in 1984 in Millbrae, California. In the context of the initial few years of the running of his company, many people, including Victor himself, have been firm that every product that their company created was legal to be used by professional athletes.

However, Victor revealed in the Netflix movie that during his tour of the bodybuilding circuits in the 1990s, he met chemist Patrick Arnold, starting a new chapter in BALCO’s history. The duo admittedly ended up creating a substance called tetrahydrogestrinone (THG), which is more commonly known as “The Clear” due to the fact that it could not be detected during the anti-doping tests that were conducted by authorities. While BALCO majorly was known as a health supplement company that was being supported by record-breaking superstars of the world of sports, it was not long before the authorities, led by former IRS agent Jeff Novitzky, uncovered a different side of the company.

Victor was thus soon accused of providing top athletes with banned substances that would help them boost their performances during their time on the field. Some of the biggest names implicated in this scandal apparently include Barry Bonds, Marion Jones, and Tim Montgomery, who are often mentioned in the Netflix movie. Initially, the federal agencies levied a total of 42 charges against Victor, but after some negotiations, they ended up dropping 40 of these as a part of his plea deal. Therefore, in July 2005, Victor formally pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to distribute steroids and one count of money laundering. He was sentenced to six months in prison, though he was released on good behavior only after a four-month stay in the federal Taft Correctional Institution in Taft, California.

Victor Conte Continues to be Part of the Fitness Industry

Despite his stint in prison as well as four months of house arrest, Victor Conte has remained a part of this same industry, though he claims that his focus these days is only on supplements, seemingly swearing off any form of performance-enhancing substances. “I clearly understand I cannot run from my past. I am who I am, I do what I do,” Victor told Reuters. “I’m not going to try and hide certain pictures and act like I never did those things. A lot of this stuff was all on the walls in BALCO. People would come in, I would always say welcome to the Hall of Fame or Shame, depending on your viewpoint.”

In fact, as of writing, Victor is the Founder and CEO of Scientific Nutrition for Advanced Conditioning, AKA SNAC, through which he claims to provide legal supplements to athletes. That being said, the company’s list of affiliated athletes does include names of individuals implicated in the BALCO scandal, including Barry Bonds, Marion Jones, and Tim Montgomery. Moreover, several contemporary professional sportsmen, like Devin Haney, are not shy about their current affiliation with SNAC or Victor himself.

This certainly dovetails with Victor’s self-proclaimed agenda of helping in the eradication of doping substances from the world of sports, something he talked about in the Netflix movie and has been going on about how useful he can be for this particular venture. “In my own mind, it is a small form of restitution,” he explained. “I caused a lot of damage, I harmed a lot of people, I’m trying to help others not go through what happens when you go down that slippery slope. I accepted full consequences and went to prison.” A father of three daughters, Victor has shared that due to his past actions, he is quite well connected to the side of sports, where one can easily gather information about the latest performance-enhancing substances.

Read More: Jeff Novitzky: Where is the Ex-FDA and IRS Agent Now?