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Every scandal begins with a lie. But the truth will come out. And then comes the fallout and the outrage.
Scandals have shaped America since its founding. From business and politics to sports and society, we look on aghast as corruption, deceit and ambition bring down heroes and celebrities, politicians and moguls. And when the dust finally settles, we’re left to wonder: how did this happen? Where did they trip up, and who is to blame? From the creators of American History Tellers, Business Wars and Tides of History comes American Scandal, where we take you deep into the heart of America’s dark side to look at what drives someone to break the rules and what happens when they’re caught. Hosted by Lindsay Graham.
Tue, 18 Sep 2018 07:05
A college dropout with no background in science turns himself into an expert on performance enhancing drugs. Soon he attracts some of the world’s best athletes—along with the attention of a determined federal agent.
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It's September 3rd, 2003, a little past noon on a clear sunny day. Sweat, adrenaline, and anticipation feel the air. Two dozen officers from five different government agencies stand in a park near the San Francisco airport. Leading the charge is a lean, focused man, standing six foot seven. Jeff Novitsky is an agent with the IRS. But today, he's not after back taxes or secret bank accounts. This is a drug waste, and not an ordinary one. Listen up. In a few minutes, we will proceed approximately 1.5 miles to our target. As far as we know, the suspects do not own any firearms. I repeat, as far as we know, you're to seize all controlled or unknown substances, paraphernalia, and any documents dating back to 1994. If you find anything with the name, Barry Bonds on it, notify me ASAP. They arrive at a strip mall, Novitsky signals to the officers to surround a low, nonescript building. The sign outside reads, Balco, Bay Area Laboratory, Kaua. And, Relaygents, we have a search warrant. Everybody, show me your hands. The agent swarm into the building with their guns drawn. They move quickly, hurting the three people inside into the center of the room while they secure the premises. Joyce Felente, the office manager, is shaking as she raises her hands above her head. She looks to her husband Jim, Balco's vice president for reassurance. But he stands silent and ash in. But the agent's attention isn't focused on them. It's on Victor Conti, the founder and president of Balco. He's a muscular 53 year old with a thin mustache and slick back hair. You might say he looks like a used car salesman, but he's wearing a white lab coat. It's incongruous. But so is everything about Victor Conti. Novitsky instruction officer to pack Conti down for weapons and ask if he's willing to talk to them. Conti agrees. They go into the conference room. Novitsky pressures Conti, telling him they've got ample proof of his guilt, and that his cooperation might be looked on favorably by prosecutors. It's a well worn cop tactic, and savvy suspects don't fall for it. They claim up and insist on having a lawyer present. But Victor Conti is an odd mixture of brilliance and naivete. He talks and talks and talks for three hours. He answers all of agent Novitsky's questions. He even answers questions Novitsky doesn't ask. Considering he's going through a federal raid, Victor Conti is surprisingly calm. He's used to trusting his instinct. It served him well in the past. But this time, his instincts couldn't be more wrong. Conti doesn't know it, but the fallout from this raid will bring down champions and world record holders. There will be congressional investigations, lawsuits, and recriminations. Records will be revoked, careers ended, and jail time served. This is the story of Balco, the steroid scandal that rocks sports and echoes to this day. American scandals sponsored by Sachi Art. I'm lucky. Not only is my wife beautiful, funny, and smart, she also has great taste that matches mine, which has made decorating our home together a delight. But how do we go about finding the art for our home? Well we agree on that too. Sachi Art. They have artworks from thousands of emerging artists around the globe in all styles, so you're guaranteed to find art that fits your style, space, and budget. Their view your room feature lets you visualize the art on your walls, and my advisor, Satin, was instrumental in finding our newest piece. Get 15% off your first order with promo code podcast. Just go to sachiart.com and enter code podcast at checkout. Find art you love today. Okay, the kids are already asking what's for dinner, but breaking news, empty fridge. That's okay, I'll instant cart. Let's add some organic asparagus and some farm fresh chicken. Easy. Wait, is the oldest vegetarian this week or was it gluten free? Gluten free pasta. Covered either way. Cart it. And finally, some vegetarian gluten free olives from my well earned cocktail. And your family shopping list has more footnotes than groceries. The world is your cart. Visit instacart.com or download the app and get free delivery on your first order. Offer valid for a limited time, minimum order $10. Delivery subject to availability. Additional terms apply. I'm Wondry, I'm Lindsey Graham and this is American scandal. Our nation's history has been shaped by the fall of the powerful. Get out in back rooms and board rooms and is littered with lies and schemes that went horribly awry. And yet, we're transfixed by these larger than life characters with dreams so big they can't be contained by laws or norms or honor or shame. In this series, we're diving deep into America's most fascinating scandals to explore not only what happened, but why? From sports, to politics, to business and culture, we'll get to know those who have aimed for the stars who've gone out in a blaze of infamy. In this five episode series, we're delving into a story that's as American as baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie. Yes, hot dogs are full of carcinogens and apple pie isn't really American, but baseball, baseball is our national pastime. Thousands of kids grew up idolizing baseball players like Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron, memorizing their stats and marvelling at the records they set, watching breathlessly as new players shatter those records. And there's no sport where records are more sacred than baseball. Sports is the ultimate meritocracy. That's why games have rules, the best team wins, the best players excel. So when someone's caught cheating, they don't just get into trouble. It's in a front to everything we believe in. At least, that's how it looked from the bleachers. But the view on the field is different, relentless pressure to make the team, to stay a step ahead of your rival to break records. If the key to winning is being the best and the best are using performance enhancing drugs, what do you do? Athletes face a wrenching choice, cheat or lose. It's a controversy that engulfs sports, and standing squarely at the center of it is Victor Conti, a charismatic, self taught scientist training some of the most famous athletes in the world. This is episode one, steroids and snake oil. It's July of 1983. Victor Conti sits in a cramped office, barely the size of a single wide trailer. He leans against a huge high tech machine that takes up nearly half the room. It's called an inductively coupled plasma spectrometer, or ICP, and it's the centerpiece of Victor's business. ICPs are used for everything, from inspecting the welds on atomic bomb casings, to matching samples taking from crime scenes, to testing urine and blood. But he's the first person to use one to analyze athletes urine and blood to determine what supplements will maximize their performance. Coming on a small, worn couch is a 285 pound shot putter, an Olympic hopeful named Greg Tafralis. Between him and the ICP, there's barely room to turn around. Three words, Greg. Trace Mineral Testing. Alright, so how does trace Mineral Testing get me to the Olympics? You know how to get to Carnegie Hall, Greg? Yeah, practice. And I do. I train every day. The air conditioner in the window rattles, struggling against the heat thrown off by the ICP. Or maybe it's the heat from Victor's enthusiastic pitch. He's an impressive speaker. Training is just one component of your practice, Greg. Equally important are your thoughts, your actions, your dreams. And what you put into your body, Greg nods his head, and likes what Kantia's selling. I believe you can be an Olympian, Greg. Are you with me? 100%. You can if you think you can. Victor's a big believer in positive thinking and following your dreams. A few years ago, he and his wife opened a small vitamin store. The Bay Area was ground zero for alternative therapies, herbalism, and new age philosophy, so they were in the right place at the right time. The supplement industry, which is largely unregulated, was on the cusp of exploding into a billion dollar business. But hard work and positive vibes weren't enough. They struggled, and the store closed. So Victor decides to narrow his focus. To work one on one with elite athletes to create customized supplement programs. Experts dismiss Kantie's trace mineral testing in his supplements as nonsense, but Victor has studied the science. And much of what he says is true. His ICP machine does detect trace levels of minerals. Working out does deplete them, and the supplements he recommends to his clients do contain those minerals. But the experts scoff. You don't need supplements to replace these minerals, because minerals are replaced by things like leafy greens in a normal diet. Kantie has no love for so called experts. Sure, they have advanced degrees in fancy titles, and he's a college dropout from Fresno, but he's smart, and he's driven, and he spends every spare moment at the Stanford University Medical Library, studying, researching, and dreamy up new theories. He likes to think of himself as unconstrained by the boundaries of a formal education. Kantie believes in what he's offering. So much so, he doesn't charge the athletes for his service. Instead, he gives them clothing to wear. The clothing consists of Balco hats and t shirts. If elite athletes credit their success to Balco, then maybe the general public will buy his supplements too. There's one small hitch. The elite athletes need to be the best of the best, the kind the whole world watches. They need to be Olympians. He spends the next few years promoting the business, and his athlete clients refer their peers. The better known he becomes, the higher caliber of athlete he attracts. NBC Sports presents the 1988 Summer Olympics, Seoul, sponsored by Budweiser, proud sponsor of the 1988 US Olympic team. And by 1988, his work and belief in himself has paid off. He has 25 top athletes in his stable, and they're heading to the Summer Olympics in Seoul Korea. He proudly presents to the world the Balco Olympians, all of them of course decked out in Balco swag. He's taken a big risk, investing in his athletes by providing them with free blood and urine analysis and his supplements. But is that all he's giving them? We can't be sure Kantie is telling the truth, but here is one indisputable fact. Putter Greg Tafralis was ranked number 10 nationally when he met Kantie. Now he's number one, and a member of the Olympic team. The experts dismiss Kantie and his trace mineral analysis as a joke. Kantie thinks, who's the joke now? Despite his big dreams, not one Balco Olympian wins a medal. Greg Tafralis comes in ninth, far behind gold medalist Ulf Timmer. He's going to be close 22 meters and 47. He's done it on the very last throw of this competition. Timmerman gold. What a test of competitiveness that was for Ulf Timmerman. He shakes his head. He can't believe what he's done. Greg Tafralis can't believe it either. He knows exactly what the secret to Timmerman's success is, banned performance enhancing drugs. East Germany has had spectacular results at the Olympics and had a devastating cost. Under a covert state sponsored doping program started in the 1960s, coaches and trainers pumped athletes full of anabolic steroids and other drugs. Over 10,000 athletes, some of them barely teenagers were forced to participate. Often they weren't even told what they were taking. They won medals, but the side effects were severe and even, in some cases, deadly. For East Germany, winning was a matter of national ego. It was at the height of the Cold War, and they wanted to prove that communist countries produced better athletes. Since the athletes had no choice in the matter and the state was sponsoring the program, there were no checks or balances. They test their athletes right before the games. If they tested positive for steroids, they'd fake an injury and withdraw. For a small country, the results were astonishing. In the 1968 Olympics, East Germany won nine gold medals. Ten years later, they won 40. Doping at the Olympics was nothing new. Ancient Olympians nod on sheep testicles to spike their testosterone levels. In the 1930s, epidemics were the performance and answer of choice. By the 1960s, the popularity of steroids was so widespread that the Olympics had to admit they had a problem. They announced a ban on the most popular performance enhancing drugs and set up a testing program to ensure compliance. But by 1988, the sole Olympics had become a steroids arms race. For each new test, athletes and trainers find a way to beat it or a new drug to take. Sometimes they're caught, but most of the time, they get away with it. There are even allegations of coverups by Olympic officials who don't want the extent of the doping to be known. And the athletes who don't take ban drugs are often left one step behind. And one step can be the difference between winning and losing. If they're caught, it can mean giving up medals and millions of dollars in endorsement deals, not to mention their risk to their health. But for many athletes, it's a risk worth taking. And that's where Victor Conti comes in. Jeff someone could ensure the drugs are pure and instruct athletes how to use them for maximum effectiveness while minimizing side effects. And most importantly, make sure they still test negative for banned substances. The sole games will become known as the Ben Johnson Olympics after the Canadian sprinter who broke the world record for the 100 meters, only to have it revoked two days later when he tested positive for steroids. Shot put a direct to frolic will later be busted for using steroids, as will Jim Daring, another member of the Balco Olympians. Did they get their steroids from Victor Conti? Victor says no, and they don't contradict him. To this day, no one has come forward to say Conti gave them steroids in the 1980s. Does that mean he didn't? That's the problem with telling the story of Victor Conti and Balco. There's no ICP spectrometer to take the stream of claims and contradictions and isolate what's real. Did he open Balco with the express purpose of selling illegal performance enhancing drugs? There's no smoking gun proving that he did. It's safe to say he is a genuine interest in maximizing athletic performance, and that he has an open mind and a voracious appetite for learning and exploring new ideas. He hasn't gone to the dark side. Not yet. Peloton isn't just about bikes and treadmills. The team of instructors ready to motivate you 24, 7. With Peloton, there are literally thousands of classes, ranging from strength training and yoga to running and boxing, which means Peloton is the perfect nonjudgmental space to experiment with new types of movement at a level in pace that feel good for you. Super busy, it doesn't matter if you have 5 minutes or an hour. If you're an early riser or a fan of the evening burn, there's a Peloton class that fits into your day. Peloton is where you'll find what works for you on your schedule wherever you happen to be, at home, at the gym, or even outdoors. Motivation that moves you, anytime, anywhere. Try the Peloton bike or tread risk free for 30 days. Learn more at onepeloton.com. New members only, terms apply. If you're into true crime, the Generation Y podcast is essential listening. We started this podcast over 10 years ago to dissect some of the craziest and most notable murders, crimes, and conspiracy theories together, and we'd love for you to join us. Generation Y is one of the longest running true crime podcasts out there, and we are still at it, unraveling a new case every week. We break down infamous cases like the Evil Genius Bank robbery, and lesser known cases like the case of Kimberly Rico. Did she actually kill her husband after they took part in a murder mystery game? We cover every angle, breaking down theories, diving deep into forensic evidence, and interviewing those close to the case. And with over 450 episodes, there's a little something for every true crime listener. Follow the Generation Y podcast on Amazon Music, or every listen to podcasts, or you can listen ad free by joining Wondry Plus in the Wondry app. In the late 1980s, Victor Conti is still struggling to make Balco a profitable business. He keeps his eye on the prize and his nose to the grindstone, seizing any opportunity to promote Balco and himself. Along the way he meets kindred spirits, including some powerful, well connected ones like Mr. Gizmo. It's the fall of 1989. Mr. Gizmo is standing with Victor Conti at the edge of a track. They watch a young athlete named Mike Powell tie a long rope around his waist and unroll a huge bundle of fabric. Watch this, Victor. See Mike over there? I've got this crazy idea. I love your crazy ideas, Gizmo. Lay it on me. You ready, Mike? Mike Powell has a long rope trailer from his back, like some kind of multi colored tail. What the hell is he doing? But as he runs, something happens. A carousel opens up behind him, like a dragster at the end of a speed race. Jesus. Victor Conti is astonished. Good job, Mike. See, Victor? It's resistance training, but for a runner. I'll be damned. Mr. Gizmo is track coach Randy Huntington. His athletes gave him the nickname because of his relentless pursuit of alternative training methods. With sparkling blue eyes and a ready smile, he loves to tinker, and he'll give due consideration to just about any new theory. He likes Conti, and he's sent several of his best athletes to Balco. Victor Conti knows he can make Mike Powell a star, and he's right. If he believes something should happen, he makes it happen. He's confident, optimistic, interesting to talk to. He's got that indefinable quality that natural leaders and politicians have, and he seems to have been born with it. Growing up in California's Central Valley, he was known for picking up girls. Literally, if he saw a girl he liked, he'd walk over to her and sweep her off her feet, and he never got punched or slapped for it. He was also a gifted athlete who sent a record at his high school for the triple jump. Right away, he figured out how to turn his talent into cash. He'd shot someone up at the local bowling alley, point out a nearby pond, and bet them that he could jump across it. The pond was 15 feet wide, and some most folks laughingly took him up on the bed. Victor, a teenage hustler, always had the last laugh, genuine talent, and working in angle. That was Victor Conti then, and it's Victor Conti now. Conti continues to build his business through the 80s, hiring writers to pen for and fauling articles and fitness magazines, and plopping his balko hats on promising athletes. And in 1991, Conti's prediction about Mike Powell comes true. Mike Powell, having just seen Carl Lewis jump that wonderful, wonderful 8 meters and 91. He really went for that one. That's huge. Oh my goodness, 8 meters and 95. That is history in the making. That's a world record by five. He wins two silver medals and sets a world record for the long jump. But even with some of the athletes its sponsors setting records, balko is struggling financially. It's a business model that sounds simple, give a way to service to celebrity clientele. They promote the business and the business thrives. The problem is, he's got some athletes with potential, but a shot putter here and a long jumper there aren't going to make the business. He needs real celebrity athletes, household names. Unfortunately, Conti's own household is a mess. He's gone through a very bitter divorce. His XY stole his dog. She set their house on fire, tore out his hair and tried to run him over. At least that's his version of the story. In light of her alleged erratic behavior, he's been given custody of the three donors, which means he's trying to run a business and be a single dad. It's not easy. When on a hot summer day in 1996, Conti gets news that will change the course of his life. Mr. Gismo calls to say he's got another athlete. This is nothing new. Gismo has referred a number of athletes to balko, but this time it's one of the most infamous players in the NFL. William Romo Romanowski. He's a linebacker with the Denver Broncos. Fans and teammates love him, posing players fear him. For his 16 year career, he'll earn a reputation as one of the dirtiest, most violent players in the game. He tears off another player's helmet, jabs him in the eyes, executes an illegal hit that breaks a player's jaw, kicks a player in the head. Actually, he does that twice. He even fights with his own teammates. He punches defensive back Marcus Williams so hard he breaks his eye socket. That punch ends Marcus Williams's career. Romo, Romo keeps on playing. So Romo isn't an easy guy to get along with, but in this moment, meeting Romo is the break Victor Conti desperately needs. Hello, I'm here to see Victor Conti. That's me. Conti turns around to see a man on the doorway. A huge man. He's 6 foot 4 and 255 pounds. Normally, Conti is feeling intimidated, but he's not about to let this man see it. Ah, hello, you must be Bill. Call me Romo. OK. Follow me, Romo. Conti leads Romo to a gleaming high tech device. It looks like a Xerox machine on steroids. So Romo, I'm going to do a full analysis using the inductively coupled plasma spectrometer. How much that machine cost you? The ICP? That is a quarter of a million dollar machine. The truth is it costs him a lot less, but he wants to impress Romo. It doesn't work. Quarter mill, huh? I spend that much a year on my crew. Your crew? Yeah. Five chiropractor. Four acupuncturists, three nutritionists, two massage therapists, a speed coach and a high performance trainer. Victor doubles down, summoning every ounce of confidence and charm. Sounds like a great crew. Exactly what you need and deserve. First of all, now you have me, unlike your confidence, Victor. So do I. I need a sample for the ICP analysis. You're going to give me a copper. Should I just piss all over your fancy machine? There are sterile sample cups in the bath for kidding, Victor. I know the routine. I've done it a thousand times. Romo is obsessed with testing. He regularly has his hair. You're an even his stools tested. But Conti discovers something new. When he gets back the results, he tells Romo that he has low copper levels. It's a sign of steroid use. Not that it's a surprise. Romo is the poster boy for Reuters. Conti makes him an offer. If you're going to go that route, he says, you may as well use the top shelf stuff. Conti will take a look at what he's using and make some suggestions. So is this the moment when Victor Conti decides to deal steroids? Or has he been dealing them for years? Like so many things about this story. The truth is difficult to nail down. And Conti likes it that way. What we do know is that when Conti meets Romo, his life takes a major turn for the better. Before he meets Romo, his business and his personal life are in disarray. He desperately needs an income stream. And Romo might be famous enough to make the Balco business model work. He'll be able to introduce Conti to other high profile athletes he can recruit as clients. Conti, that's the missing piece in the Balco business plan. He needs a spokesman, a face for the products he is, or isn't selling. IRS Special Agent Jeff Novitsky has been on stake out. And he's enough found. For the past four and a half hours, his six foot seven inch frame has been prexled into the driver's seat of a foreign fiesta. He's a cheater. He should change his name to Can Stereoid. Jeff, can we just listen to the game? It pisses me off. They wait another hour listening to the game. Drop down and it's true that he left Centerville and went to the police. What's his secret? Could it be Stereoids? Jeff, if it pisses you off so much, why do you listen to the game? Otherwise I'm sitting here with you on the most boring stake out in the world. These guys aren't even athletes. They're freaks. Oh my god, here we go. I love sports. I believe the best players should rise to the top. The best players. Not the ones who get the best drugs. Seventeen players at 40 home runs last year. You know what the previous high for a season was? Oh no, but I'm stuck in the car with you, so you're going to tell me. Eight. How do you get from eight to seventeen? How does that happen? Because they're eating their spinach and getting a good night's sleep. If I only knew someone in law enforcement, Jeff, I'd tell him to go investigate. Jeff Navisky grew up eating, drinking, and breathing sports. His father was a high school basketball coach for 34 years. Jeff excelled in track and field, but his passion was basketball, and with his height, he had potential. He went to San Jose State on a basketball scholarship. He was solid, not a showboat, the kind of player you can depend on. But knee injuries took away any dream he might have had of going further. Navisky isn't bitter about his abortive basketball career. He took it in stride. Sometimes you get a break, and sometimes you get a bad bounce. That's how it is in sports. And if taking performance enhancing drugs was the only way to succeed in proball, well, better to work for the IRS than win by cheating. The IRS. Accounting. This sounds dull, but Navisky doesn't sit behind a desk, scrutinizing people's deductions. He's a special agent with a criminal investigations unit. He carries a gun, and works undercover, busing drug rings. And not all stakeouts are as boring as this one. He helped bring down a mob connected sheriff's deputy who bragged about killing people, threatened to cut off a victim's finger with a samurai sword. But while this stakeout may be boring, the stakes for his career are higher than any case he's ever worked. Many imagines himself at a news conference, where signing copies of his bestselling book, cameras clicking, reporters yelling questions, maybe even Hollywood would make a movie about him. If his suspicions about Balco are correct, half of the records in sports and countless Olympic medals are won by cheating, and it'll be him, Jeff Navisky, who blows it all wide open. Oh, they're going to remember his name. Hey, it's Guy Ross here. On my podcast How I Built This, I share the mic with the founders of some of the world's best known companies. But How I Built This Isn't Your Average Business Podcast? Every episode is a rollercoaster of emotions. And by tapping into the hearts and minds of entrepreneurs, we can learn how the complex decisions they made years ago paved the way for their monumental success. But it's not just conversations about past successes. My guests and I also explore the novel and innovative ideas they're pursuing right now. The goal of our podcast is to inspire you with relatable stories so you approach challenges like their opportunities, just like an entrepreneur. So if you want to learn to think differently, follow How I Built This, wherever you're listening right now. Listen to new episodes one week early on Amazon Music or Early and Add Free by subscribing to Wondery Plus in Apple Podcasts or on the Wondery app. The San Francisco Giants sign him to baseball's biggest contract ever, nearly $44 million over six years. He is his own private area in the clubhouse and luxury hotel suites when the team goes on the road. In fact, the Giants owner, Peter McGowan, has bet the farm on bonds. He's built a new stadium without any public funding, saddling the Giants with an unprecedented $150 million in debt. McGowan needs a draw and Barry Bond's delivers. Did he do it again? Yes, Bond's with his second free run home and the Giants laid seven to four. Absolutely utterly remarkable. Well, that's what happens when you turn on superman's pick. I still can't believe they pitched to him. You turn on it and you lift it up and it says on the band MVP. Bond's produces MVP performance in the first year of his contract. He bats 336 with 46 home runs, a 123 RBI, 126 walks, 129 runs, and an on base percentage of 456 career highs in every single category. And he continues to deliver. But one thing Barry Bond's isn't is loved. Even as a child, he had a hard time making friends. He grew up in the shadow of his father, Bobby, a baseball legend in his own right. Barry inherited his father's drive and talent, but he couldn't earn his father's love and attention. Bobby was an abuse of alcoholic. And even when Barry was emerging as a standout player in high school, Bobby rarely came to his games. That was okay with Barry. The last thing he wanted was his father showing up drunk and causing a scene. Bobby's shadow looms large over Barry. He's the star player at Unipero Sarah High School, but his teammates really don't like him. He shows up late for practice, doesn't participate, sulks, and worst of all, he gets away with it. The other players think he gets a free pass because he's Bobby Bond's son. And that's probably true. As for Barry, he feels judged. If kids are friendly, he doesn't know if they're just kissing up to him because his father's a celebrity, and being one of the only black kids in a primarily white suburb makes him feel even more like an outsider. Another truth, and a hard one for his teammates to swallow, is that Barry is better than all of them. He can skip practice and still be the best player on the field. It doesn't make him any friends, but it makes him valuable. And by 1996, if you measure by salary, he is literally the most valuable player in baseball. But despite Bond's best efforts, it looks like the giants might not ever make it to the world series. He grows restless and tries unsuccessfully to get himself treated to Atlanta. When Mark McGuire breaks Roger Maris's home run record in 1998, Bond's bitterness grows. He's not doing steroids at this point, but he's convinced McGuire is. It's not a level playing field, and he's not happy about it. Bond's plops down on the couch, the game's on, but he's in a bad mood. The man in the hour, Mark McGuire, who is old for one tonight is second at bat here in the four. Tell me that dude ain't juicy. Why would I lie to you, Barry? It's bullshit. How are we supposed to be our best when everyone's cheating? Do you want to win or you want to lose? You mean cheat or lose? Same thing. Bond's looks as friends straight in the eyes. You doing that shit? Don't ask, don't tell brother. You're not free of line, is it enough? Go! Oh god. Glad Marius is your lie to see this. Turn that shit off. Maybe in a parallel universe, Barry Bond would have met Jeff Navitsky. And with Bond's inside knowledge and Navitsky's authority, they clean up baseball. But that's a tall order from a galaxy far, far away. Here on Planet Earth, baseball has been dirty for a long, long time. Back in the day, tobacco companies hired players to endorse their products, claiming that smoking or chewing tobacco gives them extra vigor. By the 1960s, emphetamines replace nicotine as a player's drug of choice. Playing 162 games a year is grueling. In greenies, as they were called, help players keep their eyes open and on the ball. But it's in 1970 that the lid gets blown off when picture Jim Boughton publishes ball four, an insider account of his 1969 season playing for the Seattle Pilots. He wrote openly about the emphetamines they called greenies. But instead of cracking down, the baseball establishment attacked Boughton. Things haven't changed much by the 90s. Baseball still has one of the weakest drug testing programs in sports. Congress passes the Annabolic Stereoids Control Act, which places steroids in the same legal classes emphetamines, methamphetamines, opium, and morphine. But that doesn't mean baseball is doing anything to stop them from being used. Finally, in 1991, Commissioner Faveinson takes decisive action by sending a memo. He tells each team that steroids have been added to the league's band list, but no testing plan is announced. In 1992, trainer Curtis Wensloff is arrested for steroids distribution. Years later, he admits dealing steroids to over 20 major league players, including Jose Konseco. At the time, a rigorous drug testing program might have caught this, but baseball owners did not implement a rigorous testing program. Major league baseball is a very big business, taking in almost $10 billion a year in revenue. The job of the owners isn't to play cop, it's to protect their revenue stream, and that's a delicate balancing act. They can't be seen as turning a blind eye to rampant drug use, but if all the top players get thrown out of the game, who's going to buy tickets? For the owners, it's a major league headache. For Victor Conti, it's a business opportunity. Fans want to see athletes perform at their peak and shatter records. Owners want a credible drug testing program, but they want the players to pass all the tests. What if you can find a way to ensure both? In other words, if you're going to cheat, cheat well. The first thing Victor needs is a credible cover. He can't exactly advertise BALCO as the place to get the finest designer steroids. He also needs a legitimate product he can sell in bulk. Up till now, BALCO has been peddling services. He uses his ICP machine to analyze an athlete's metabolism and puts together a customized program of supplements. That's not something he can mass produce. He needs something that his star clients can endorse and the general public will buy. In 1997, he comes up with a solution. He calls it ZMA. According to Conti, his testing of hundreds of athletes has revealed that working out to plead zinc and magnesium, ZMA replenishes them. He makes other dubious claims about ZMA, and whether their true or not is really beside the point, it's all about appearances. And here's Conti's move. BALCO's clients will attribute their performance to ZMA, a perfectly legal supplement. He'll do it by wearing ZMA shirts, giving interviews and appearing in ads. The general public will then buy ZMA, giving BALCO a legitimate revenue stream. In exchange for their promotion, Conti gives his clients free performance enhancing drugs. And he'll keep doing research and testing, studying how long various drugs stay detectable and blood in urine, when to take them and when to stop. What drugs can mass signs of other drugs? Victor Conti has finally figured out how to make money using his greatest strengths, science and self promotion. It's simple. It's smart, and it works. Until IRS agent Jeff Nibitsky starts poking through his trash. From wondering, this is episode 106 of BALCO for American Scandal. On the next episode, agent Nibitsky's dumpster diving leads to unexpected discoveries and Victor Conti's finally in the limelight, but will his shadowy business be exposed? If you'd like to learn more about Doping and Sports and BALCO, we recommend a book, Game of Shadows, Barry Bonds, BALCO and the Steroid Scandal that rocked professional sports by Mark Fainar Owata and Lance Williams. This episode contains reenactments and dramatized details. And while in most cases we can't know exactly what was said, all our dramatizations are based on historical research. American Scandal is hosted, edited, executed, produced and sound designed by me Lindsey Graham for airship. This episode is written by Steve Chivers. Our consultants are Mark Fainar Owata and Lance Williams. Our assistant producers are Stephanie Jens, Marsha Lui and her nonlocust for wandering.