After the announcement that MLBPA Executive Director Donald Fehr was stepping down, columnists, historians, and fans have weighed on what Fehr’s legacy will be. Given that he was at the helm when the players union triumphed over owner collusion in the ‘80s, while also leading the group during the so-called “Steroid Era”, Fehr’s legacy will most likely be remembered as a mixed bag.
As for the latter, the BALCO investigation certainly brought the use of performance-enhancing drugs into the common place lexicon as it became headline news across the country.
Victor Conte, the founder and president of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO), was at the center of it all. The nutrition center that became a near boutique for star athletes looking to acquire an edge through banned PEDs, including chemist Patrick Arnold’s creation of steroid tetrahydrogestrinone (THG), has come to personify the designer PED cocktails that have given sports a black eye.
Since Fehr’s announcement yesterday, Conte has posted a steady stream of article links on Twitter to anti-Fehr and Selig articles that paint the two as being more concerned with revenue than the PED issue in baseball at the time (it should be noted that this author has said in more than one column that the two are, at the very least, culpable for the pervasive use of PEDs in Major League Baseball).
Today, Conte posted article links with the following commentary on Twitter:
First he posted:
“Donald Fehr knew all along there was a huge steroid problem in baseball and he enabled the culture out of greed.”
“Bud Selig should be replaced as MLB Commissioner. He only cares about the money and nothing else. Willful ignorance.”
Maybe it was a case of my “willful ignorance”, but I said that greed may have been a driving factor for him, as well.
RT @VictorConte "Fehr knew all along there was a huge steroid problem in baseball and he enabled the culture out of greed." So did V. Conte
@BizballMaury Greed had nothing to do with what I did involving PED's. It was wrong , but it was never about greed.
I followed up with"
RT @VictorConte Greed had nothing to do with what I did involving PED's. It was wrong, but it was never about greed." OK, what was motive?
Conte has yet to respond to my follow-up, but has reaffirmed his position when others replied.
“What I did involving PED's was never about the money. Anyone who knows the facts of the case knows this to be true.”
Coming back to Conte’s motive, if it wasn’t the money, then what was it? A clear answer might surely center around ego. Being the PED supplier to star athletes would certainly inflate the ego more than being a nutritional supplement supplier in a sea of other supplement suppliers.
It should be noted that Conte might simply have been describing the articles he was Tweeting up. He has, as yet, not said one way or the other.
In the meantime, follow me and the Business of Sports Network on Twitter to see where this conversation might lead.
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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