If America had a Hall of Fame for sporting disgrace, Victor Conte would occupy its most prominent berth. For almost a decade, the San Francisco-based nutritionist supplied performance-enhancing drugs to some of the world's most notorious cheats, from the steroid-enhanced baseball slugger Barry Bonds to the Olympic athlete Marion Jones and the British sprinter Dwain Chambers.
In 2003, FBI officers raided Conte's premises, the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative. A year later, he pleaded guilty to illegal steroid distribution and money laundering, and served four months in prison. His clients were named, shamed, and, in many cases, banned.
Now he's back in business. To the concern of professional sports bodies the world over, Conte has re-emerged with a new company called Scientific Nutrition for Advanced Conditioning. During the past year, he's been based in San Carlos, close to his old office, where he presides over the training regimes of a stable of top athletes.
New clients include Andre Ward, who just became the WBA World Super-Middleweight boxing champion, and Marlon Byrd, a batter for the Texas Rangers. They also include Chambers who, shortly after breaking the world 60-metre record in March, admitted to being back in touch with Conte.
Conte claims to be a reformed character, and in an expose published by the Los Angeles Times this week insisted his new operation is above board.
Not everyone's convinced, though. Travis Tygart, the chief executive of United States Anti-Doping Agency said: "I believe everyone deserves to be rehabilitated, but ... for the life of me, I can't imagine why anyone would associate with someone like this who's made so many mistakes in the past."