Marlon Byrd suspended 50 games for PED use; Victor Conte denies involvement
Marlon Byrd was suspended 50 games by MLB on Monday for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drugs policy. Byrd tested positive for Tamoxifen, which reportedly is used by steroid users to kick-start testosterone production after a cycle. The product, which is commonly used to treat breast cancer patients, reportedly reduces side effects of steroid use.
Byrd, who is a free agent after being released by the Red Sox earlier this month, claims he wasn’t taking the substance to gain an advantage.
“Several years ago, I had surgery for a condition that was private and unrelated to baseball. Last winter, I suffered a recurrence of that condition and I was provided with a medication that resulted in my positive test. Although that medication is on the banned list, I absolutely did not use it for performance enhancement reasons.”
Byrd’s positive test is notable for several reasons. The outfielder became an All-Star in 2010 with the Cubs and credited his work with Victor Conte for his success. Conte is the man who ran BALCO lab which infamously served PED users like Barry Bonds and Marion Jones.
Conte continues to work with athletes but says he does so cleanly. He denied involvement with Byrd’s positive test.
“I did not give Marlon Byrd tamoxifen or provide him with consultation regarding his use of this drug,” Conte wrote on Twitter. “Any nutritional supplements I ever provided to Marlon Byrd were legal products that contained no banned substances. I provided Marlon Byrd with nutritional and training advice which had nothing whatsoever to do with any type of prohibited substances.”
Byrd also says Conte had nothing to do with the test.
“I do want to say that Victor had nothing to do with this,” he told USA Today. “He didn’t know about me taking tamoxifen or the positive test until two days ago.”
There is a lot of suspicion here, so your opinion depends on what and whom you believe. Do you believe Byrd’s excuse that the substance was taken accidentally? If not, do you believe that he only recently started using ‘roids because he’s struggling now, or do you think he was also on them when he played well for the Rangers and Cubs?
And do you believe that Conte wasn’t involved? Conte is facing some ugly circumstantial evidence.
One of his other clients, boxer Andre Berto, was busted for a positive steroids test last month that ruined his fight date with Victor Ortiz (Ortiz ended up losing to the replacement fighter). Conte again maintained innocence with Berto and blamed the positive test for nandrolone on a contaminated substance.
Conte may be telling the truth, and it’s possible that both athletes are too, but I doubt it. I do know one thing: If I’m an athlete, I’m not working with Victor Conte given his history. Not unless I want a performance boost and am willing to risk a positive test.