Oscar Wilde once wrote, in a widely paraphrased comment, that you can judge a man by the quality of his enemies. Victor Conte, the notorious all-time great performance enhancing drug supplier turned self-styled anti-PED reformer, has spent the last several days attacking me on Twitter. On a Wilde-an level, that might make me a great, great man. By the same standard, judging by the efficacy of Conte’s attacks – “lil bitch,” “pimple brother,” a fundamental misunderstanding of how Twitter works – that might make me, a la Tyrion Lannister, a half-man.

Conte is, most famously, the boss of BALCO, which allegedly counted as its customers Barry Bonds, Marion Jones, Shane Mosley and Bill Romanowski. He went to prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute steroids and money laundering. He has spent the years since striking up customers in boxing, among them top names like Andre Ward and Nonito Donaire, both since departed from his clientele, but far from the only boxers who became and remained customers. Thus, my interest in Conte as editor of the boxing blog The Queensberry Rules.

Conte has associated himself with the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association, a good drug-testing organization that has tested boxers and mixed martial artists and that has gone to great lengths to de-associate itself from him. He has re-emerged in the mainstream, non-boxing press of late because confirmed drug cheat Alex Rodriguez sought out his services, which he didn’t disclose until reporters came a-knocking, which of course gives credence to Conte’s assertion that A-Rod only wanted some safe, legal non-PED supplement advice from one of the sport’s most successful drug cheats. Eye roll.

Yet Conte has his fans in the sports media, and in the boxing media. They are convinced he is clean, which prompted the below series of tweets from me about how maybe Conte has done a number of things since his “reformation” that warrant just the slightest bit of skepticism. That I did this makes me no victim; I definitely threw the first punch.















Two of the tweets warrant updates, one of which is a correction. I erroneously attributed the “cat urine” tweet to a fake Memo Heredia account, when in fact it was a fake Alex Ariza account. Heredia and Ariza are two boxing strength and conditioning coaches who warrant a similar – perhaps even greater – level of skepticism about their trustworthiness compared to that of Conte. Conte spends enormous amounts of time criticizing both men on Twitter. One colleague did an eight-month survey of how often Conte tweeted about Heredia last year, and found that 1,439 of his tweets mentioned Heredia’s Twitter handle, or 44 percent of his overall tweets. Imagine spending nearly half of your social media life fixated on one person. (Heredia had tweeted plenty about Conte, too, just less so: approximately 17 percent of the time.)

The other update is about what writer Tim Elfrink reported about Conte. He tweeted some things about Conte that weren’t in his article, and subsequently deleted those tweets. Here, Conte has raised a valid dispute. But Elfrink stands by his article, which point to some potential high jinks on Conte’s part with A-Rod. The point remains: Whether Conte has solid counter-arguments to every single one of those tweets or not, and he does for some of them, he has amassed plenty of smoke in lieu of fire since his alleged switchover to the side of the angels.

An earlier version of my “feud” with Conte is hinted at in one of the tweets. TQBR interviewed Heredia a while back. The reporter on the story sought out comment from Conte in response to Heredia’s most inflammatory remarks. At my urging, the reporter on the story sought additional comment from Conte. It’s one thing to interview a controversial figure and another thing to both interview that figure and give him wide leeway to say false, propaganda-ish, unanswered things, and both the reporter and myself were determined to hold Heredia to account.

We did not print every single word of Conte’s e-mailed answers (just as we did not print every word of Heredia’s comments), which led to accusations from Conte that we edited his responses to distort his meaning. Yet when Conte was publicly invited to publish every word of his prior comments to demonstrate how we distorted his quotes, he did not do so, and still has not done so. That’s because the gist of his comments was, indeed, faithfully and accurately conveyed.

What really broke the dam on Conte’s decision to attack me of late was that Heredia decided to start retweeting some of my choice remarks about Conte. At the time, we interacted thusly:



Both Conte and Heredia had me blocked for a time prior to this exchange on Twitter, which meant – if you’re not conversant in Twitter mores and rules – that any tweet I directed at them would not show up on their timelines. Heredia, however, decided to unblock me, per the above exchange. He might come to regret that decision; time will tell. But Conte clearly spends every waking hour paying attention to what Heredia says and does on his own Twitter timeline. And once Heredia started digging up months-old and even years-old comments I made about Conte, Conte decided I was in cahoots with Heredia, and that he would tweet at me non-stop regardless of the fact that he had me blocked.

Here, we shall let the tweet exchange speak for itself.







That seemed to shut him up for a while. Fortunately or unfortunately – I’ll go with fortunately, because of the ensuing comedy – Heredia continued to RT my remarks about Conte. That meant that tweets Conte might not otherwise have seen because he had me blocked were, in fact, seen by Conte, given his stalking of Heredia’s timeline.

At this point, Conte’s misunderstanding of the nature of Twitter is freaking hilarious. I’ve had some Twitter feuds in my day, none of which made me feel good about myself until this one, because Twitter feuds are almost inherently embarrassing.











By the time this publishes, it probably won’t be over. Judging by Conte’s tweet output, it could be months, even years before he stops tweeting at me, the guy he finds insignificant and ill-informed, the guy he finds to be a bitch and a possible “pimple brother,” the guy he has blocked so he can’t hear what he says unless his greatest enemy RTs it.

And all the while, he’ll be shoveling dirt on the notion that he’s a sincere, honest, upfront-dealing sort who only cares about saving sports from the scourge of PEDs he played such a prominent role in building, rather than being the kind of guy who is preoccupied with prosecuting grudges at all costs, truthfully or no, intelligently or no, against people he has deliberately taken steps not to listen to while he obsessively listens to what they say.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.

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