The newest episode in Netflix’s Untold sports anthology series, Hall of Shame, tells the surprising story of one heavily-disliked figure in sports history who isn’t actually an athlete: Victor Conte.
The founder and president of Bay Area Laboratory Co-Collective (BALCO) and former bassist for Tower of Power served four months in prison in 2005 after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute steroids and money laundering.
The Evolution of Victor Conte and BALCO
Conte started BALCO in 1984 as a sports nutrition center. He developed his own line of vitamin and mineral supplements to help improve athletes’ performances. His brands SNAC and ZMA — named for its supplement containing zinc, magnesium aspartate, and vitamin B6 — are still in stores.
According to Conte, interviewed in Untold: Hall of Shame, BALCO’s operations were completely legal and legitimate until 2000 when he began to dabble in the world of steroids.
With the help of a chemist, Conte developed his own form of anabolic steroids that would be undetectable in athlete testing. Administered in dropper form under the tongue, he named his steroid “The Clear” for its clear, watery consistency. In order to prevent “The Clear” from changing athletes’ hormone levels, which would reveal their steroid use, he developed a second component that would even out the hormone changes called “The Cream,” a topical steroid applied to the skin.
Conte says he supplied performance-enhancing steroids to athletes like former American track sprinter Tim Montgomery and former American track-and-field athlete Marion Jones-Thompson.
Montgomery admitted in an interview with Untold that he had taken steroids from Conte. But according to Untold, Jones-Thompson denies having ever knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs.
She served six months in jail in 2008 for perjury and is the only athlete to serve time in the BALCO case. She also had to return all five of her Olympic medals.
Montgomery’s 2002 world record in the 100-meter dash was disqualified in 2005.
Despite accusations that Conte also helped baseball player Barry Bonds achieve his home run records, he denies having supplied Bonds with any steroids. Bonds also denies having ever used steroids.
Where Is Victor Conte Now?
According to Untold, Victor Conte says he has made $80 million from the sale of ZMA and SNAC supplements. He currently drives a Bentley.
He also admitted in Untold that he believes his past actions, including administering illegal steroids to athletes, were wrong.
Since his release from prison, he has worked with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to help them catch athletes who may be using steroids by sharing his knowledge of ways he once helped athletes circumvent steroid testing.
“I’d like to dedicate my life to creating a level playing field for young athletes in the future,” he says in an archival interview shown in Untold.
Now, he’s gone back to his roots. He currently works with pro-wrestlers to enhance their performances legally with his SNAC and ZMA supplements as well as other natural methods, like hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Main Image: Victor Conte pictured in Untold: Hall of Shame courtesy of Netflix.