Conte says Mosley knew of steroids

Times Staff Writer

BALCO founder Victor Conte on Tuesday said former world champion boxer Shane Mosley knew “exactly and precisely what he was doing” when he engaged in a doping program before his 2003 victory over Oscar De La Hoya.

Mosley last week sued Conte for slander and libel after Conte said he was planning a new book that would “set the record straight” on Mosley’s knowledge about using the designer steroids known as “the clear” and “the cream,” and the blood-doping drug EPO.

Mosley maintains in the lawsuit that Conte told him “all of the products recommended . . . were entirely legal and appropriate.”


But Conte said Tuesday that Mosley knew he was being given steroids.

“I didn’t deceive him; he knew what he was taking and I told him that before he took it,” said Conte, who served four months in federal prison for steroid distribution and money laundering after the 2003 raid of his Burlingame, Calif., Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative resulted in the discovery of detailed doping calendars of elite athletes.

One of those athletes was Olympic sprinter Marion Jones, who in October ended years of denials and acknowledged she had used steroids and lied to federal agents looking into BALCO. She was sentenced to six months in prison and retired in disgrace.

In Mosley’s case, Conte says he has access to the boxer’s doping calendars and lab results, which he said help support his claims.

“I told him it was an undetectable steroid that wouldn’t show up in a test,” Conte said.

Pomona’s Mosley, 36, had beaten his Southern California rival De La Hoya by split decision in 2000 before landing that 2003 rematch.

Conte said his doping calendars for Mosley, known in the documents by the initials “S.M.,” show the boxer started using “the clear,” a liquid steroid dropped under the tongue, and EPO, which was injected into Mosley’s stomach area, on July 26, 2003 -- exactly seven weeks before the De La Hoya rematch.

Mosley first used the drugs with Conte, BALCO vice president James Valente and Mosley’s conditioning trainer Derryl Hudson watching in Conte’s office, Conte said. Hudson is suing Mosley for defamation in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, and the trainer’s attorney Tuesday declined to comment about Conte’s claims. Valente could not be reached Tuesday.

Conte said his records show Mosley flew to Oakland on July 26, 2003, and was transported to BALCO headquarters by limousine. The boxer also had a “baseline” blood draw taken at nearby Mills Peninsula Health Services, Conte said.

Reinforcing that Mosley was being given “more than vitamins,” Conte said, the calendar showed the boxer supplemented the EPO with iron pills, Vitamin E, folic acid and Vitamin B-12. Records show that Mosley had taken six EPO injections before a second blood draw on Aug. 8, 2003, at Bear Valley Community Healthcare District in Big Bear Lake, Conte said.

A lab test for Mosley called a hematocrit, which measures the number and size of red blood cells, showed a sharp increase, Conte said.

“He was increasing the percentage of red blood cells with every breath, increasing the number of oxygen molecules to his muscle tissue, which means instead of having shortness of breath during a long workout, your stamina is enhanced,” Conte said. “We had talked about the benefits of oxygen uptake. . . . We talked about the benefit of EPO being at the end of the fight, with his extra stamina and endurance.”

Mosley has acknowledged injecting himself in the stomach area and paying for BALCO products -- Conte said the bill was $1,650 with a $900 cash payment for EPO -- but the boxer maintains he believed he was using legal vitamins.

“You think vitamins cost $900 a month?” Conte asked.

In the Sept. 13, 2003, rematch against De La Hoya, all three judges awarded Mosley a 10-9 decision in the final four rounds, and Mosley won his third world title by unanimous decision, 115-113, on all three scorecards.

Conte says his calendars show Mosley received EPO through Sept. 8, 2003, and that he took eight doses of “the clear,” and seven doses of “the cream” until Aug. 31, 2003.

“Yes, I watched that fight, and I remember him winning the late rounds and thinking, ‘That was an edge,’ ” Conte said. “Shane deserves all the credit for his victory, but did I feel a part of it? In a certain regard, I guess I did.”

Mosley, currently training in Big Bear for a May 31 fight against Zab Judah, was unavailable for comment Tuesday, but his wife and manager, Jin, said, “Shane never had a doping calendar or never knowingly took steroids. He was not taking anything labeled ‘steroid.’ ”

De La Hoya, whose Golden Boy Promotions company now promotes Mosley’s fights, was not available for comment Tuesday.

Mosley’s attorney, Judd Burstein, said in the lawsuit that Conte’s claims are a “publicity campaign to maximize sales” of his book.

Reached on Tuesday, Burstein said, “The calendars don’t prove anything. Shane didn’t know what he was taking, and that’s completely believable to anyone who knows Shane. He wouldn’t know a hematocrit from a chromatic print.”

Conte said Mosley’s denials make this case “Marion Jones Part 2. It’s not OK for him to say he was duped, misled or deceived.”