Conte Cleaning Up

Business & clients like Nonito Donaire are flocking back to BALCO founder Victor Conte

Original Article: Daily News

By Teri Thompson and Christian Red

Saturday, September 17, 2011

As they sat in the offices of the San Carlos, Calif., nutritional supplement company he started, Victor Conte and bantamweight boxer Nonito Donaire were brainstorming names for Conte's newest consumer product - an energy drink designed to stimulate "mind and body for more powerful and effective workouts."

"What if we called it PED?" Conte joked.

"I think it's great!" Donaire said.

The acronym was too good to pass up.

For those in anti-doping circles, the three letters will not be lost in translation - PED is most often the acronym associated with "performance-enhancing drugs" - but these days Conte can afford to poke fun at his BALCO past and his once-sullied reputation.

Scientific Nutrition for Advanced Conditioning, or SNAC, is Conte's company and business is booming. PED - which stands for Performance Energy Drink - is about to hit the market, joining a list of other SNAC products, including ZMA, that fuel Conte's highly successful supplement business and allow him to do what he says he enjoys doing most, work with world-class athletes. Donaire is one of several elite athletes who train under Conte and word has traveled quickly: if you want .exceptional performance results, the man you need to see is Victor Conte.

"He's helped me become a better fighter and athlete," Donaire says of Conte. "My performance level has increased dramatically."

Yes, the BALCO founder who pleaded guilty and served four months in jail for his role in the biggest sports doping scandal of the 21st century - the ring that ensnared the likes of Olympic track star Marion Jones and home run king Barry Bonds and led to an effort to rid sports of doping that has stretched into the current investigation of cycling king Lance Armstrong - can now scarcely field the myriad calls lighting up his cell phone. Cubs outfielder Marlon Byrd is a Conte client. So are boxers Andre Berto and Zab Judah. Professional and amateur athletes want Conte's expertise on nutrition, his views on recovery and just about anything else.

"We talk about everything," Donaire says. "Victor is never short for any discussion. I end up sounding like Victor when I talk to other fighters about training and nutrition."

And Donaire, ranked No. 3 on the world's best pound-for-pound list by Ring Magazine and No. 1 in his weight class, says Conte is clean and running a training program and business that is stripped of any BALCO fingerprints - even if agencies such as the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency are still keeping tabs on Conte from a distance.

"I've always tested clean and I have always been clean," says Donaire, who is Filipino-American. "I never judge a person (and decide) who they are. Victor wanted to meet with me and I didn't want to pre-judge. I didn't say to myself, 'I shouldn't do this.' I asked my team and they said, 'Why not? The guy knows a lot.' Victor is like a father to me. We have a trust with each other."

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