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Play the Game Communication Conference
 
By Vaughn Trevi
Date: 11/9/2005
Play the Game Communication Conference
 

Play the Game Communication Conference

Kelli White opening day of the Conference, confronts her experiences of the last two years with doping, the battle that lies ahead and what she is doing about it. Kelli is not a cyclist, but her comments are key to an understanding of the doping problem and what can be done about it.

Kelli White once called the fastest woman in the world for her wins in the 100 & 200 meter sprint spoke at the Play the Game Communication Conference on her use of performance enhancing drugs provided by Victor Conte of Balco.

In her speech Kelli called her use of performance enhancing drugs the most regrettable and, “Worst mistake I could ever make” in her life and she is committed to using what she knows with the help of the USADA to clean up sport.

Kelli said she was brought to the infamous Balco Labs and introduced to Victor Conte by her coach Remi Korchemny, who had coached her since she was 12 years old. In 2000 when White was 23, just out of the University of Tenessee, she was determined to go pro and returned to Los Angeles to be coached by Korchemny.
Korchemny introduced her to Conte who she thought would provide her with supplements to aid her performance; at the time she did not believe that this would include illegal substances.

Victor Conte provided several supplements which he referred to as “Flax oil” at that time; two weeks later Conte confessed the supplements were in fact steroids. White severed ties with Conte at that time.

At the outset Kelli stated she had no desire to use drugs, but after persuasion from her coach who told her, “…To be world Class you have to dope.” “My coach making me believe it was ok. They make you believe everyone is doing it.”
Kelli admits now that she has competitors she knows that compete and are not using drugs; and it is not true that all athletes are doping. Later in 2003 after a year filled with injuries she approached Conte about a drug program.

Kelli feels that it is possible to top global track and field without relying on drugs and some recent performances makes her believe that things in the sport are getting better since she was banned for two years for testing positive. Kelli stated that the times of the women sprinters are more realistic in the last two years and believes she can compete at a world class level again after her ban is up.

 Kelli did not hesitate to take responsibility for her actions and was candid about her choice to contact Conte and use drugs. She did express her disappointment of betrayal of her trust she placed in her coach in the beginning to convince her to use drugs.
“I began to believe that the only way to be good was to use drugs. I put my life in their hand.”
Answering delegates' questions after her brief, no-frills speech on the inaugural day of Play the Game’s conference, the former world champion in 100m and 200m races now serving out a two-year expulsion in the wake of the BALCO disclosures, said that the fight against doping in sport was hard because athletes were scared of the providers, who are extremely powerful, and drug-detectors always found themselves outrun by drug-makers.

Dressed in black, the spry athlete from the US made it clear that “it's bad to be looked at as a bad person” and that “it's unfair the way they put us out of the sport while those responsible for landing us in trouble get only short prison terms.”

She noted that Victor Conte got 4 months in Jail and 4 months of house arrest, Korchemny her coach was never penalized and to this day is coaching elite athletes. She only noted that the athlete is punished with a more severe or harsher punishment than the providers and persons who encourage or make drugs available.
”I knew what I was doing,” she said explaining her action whilst answering a delegate's question, “but he'd made champions and that implied his methods worked.”

Her admission of the performance-enhancing drugs Dr Conte had subsequently given her was clearly phrased and categorically stated. She also noted that she had passed 16 drug tests before the fateful day she tested positive during the three months she used performance enhancing drugs
She said that the Paris World Championships which should have been the the high point of her life - had come to be shot through with a very deep sense of disappointment coupled with a feeling of guilt and that was not just because that was when she tested positive for the first time.

After Balco was raided she decided to come clean and work with the USADA and help to so what she could do help clean up the sport by coming forward and telling the truth.
“I am hoping that by telling my story, it will open the eyes of others.” she said.
She knew she had started out promisingly and honestly but her success was now undermined by the dubious method of achieving it.

The one-time fastest woman of the world was unambiguous in her assertion that she had not done it for money or vanity and that it was wrong to think that drugs alone could make a champion of an ordinary athlete. Regarding vanity she stated that she looked terrible as she had gained 20 lbs, and developed acne in 4 months before the world championships while she was using a cocktail of EPO, THZ and stimulants, “I hated the way I looked,”

“Dope-users,” she said are not necessarily bad people but “are people who've made bad mistakes” Anticipating being reinstated next year, she let it be known that she wanted to do well again – in a fair way.

The full transcript of Kelli’s speech can be downloaded here. It is a speech worth taking the time to listen to.

 Kelli is to be commended in her willingness to confront doping in sport and work to help clean competition.

Editorial Note:
According to Kelli White in the above article and link with her speech and Q&A the harshness of the penalties to the athletes compared to no action for the doctors, coaches, drug dealers is unfair.
She stated that not only was her coach, Victor Balco the dealer, but also medical doctors who had to write prescriptions for stimulants and other drugs to cover up the dope she was using... looking at this it is a ring of participants who make it possible for athletes to dope and have sustained success in beating the tests.

The dis-incentive to the Doctors, dealers and coaches due to light or no punishment at all has to be addressed and dealt with.

If only the riders or athletes are punished and the dealers, doctors and others are left to prey on other riders or ply their trade two conditions will remain unhandled:
1- As personnel providing drug are not punished they will continue to convince other athletes to dope continuing the lie that "everybody does it" and "if you want to a winner you have to dope." Poisoning not only the sport but also the athletes and fans who follow the sport.
2- They will continue to provide drugs and make a profit in their chosen profession and destroy the fair competition and sport by evolving more performance enhancing drugs that can not be detected.

One of the areas that has to be addressed if we want drug free sport of any kind is that the dealers and doctors have to be punished as a conspiracy to defraud other athletes and fans.

It makes sense to me that Coaches who aid or suggest drugs to athletes should be banned for life from a coaching position as they have betrayed the trust of the athlete and the concept of drug free and Fair sport.
In the case of dealers they should be given severe jail sentences as they are in the business of not only defrauding the public of a clean playing field but corrupting sports and athletes.
They should also be banned from any connection with sport including being a spectator for life.

Team owners or team personnel who make drugs available or demand or encourage their use should be banned from the sport for life at every level from amateur and above.
Doctors who as part of a ring writing prescriptions to mask or give drugs to aid performance should be charged with malpractice and banned from the sport for life.
Any members of National Teams personnel should likewise should have these standards applied to them with the addition that they can never hold a post in any national sports organization.

If we punish just the rider/athlete and not attack the persons and systems that exist and have existed in the past to continue the problem there will be no end to the problem of drugs in sport.
Fines for these individuals should also be added to penalties and the money used to conduct research for testing, finance investigation of drug dealers and makers of drugs and to rehabilitate athletes.

To do less will only encourage the status quo to continue; and may be the reason with all the efforts of the UCI in the past we have not had more success in the battle.

Doctors:
There are two venues regarding doctors who aid doping athletes:
If the Olympic committee after a finding by WADA or the UCI (that a doctor was guilty of providing illicit drugs or prescriptions to an athlete) could easily ban the doctor from any team or athletic consultation or treatment of athletes.
This effectively removes them from the athletic arena. Likewise it would ban any athlete from consulting this doctor. This would go a long way to limiting their destructive actions in the future.
Furthermore if those institutions would follow through by notifying the local, state or government entities that enforce ethics in their area and demand an investigation... basically do a complaint on the doctor, it would get things rolling.
Full disclosure of the acts of the doctor with press releases after the finding, bringing about public attention to the doctors’ actions, embarrassing them, would add the public social stigma, beyond censure by his own medical committee.

EPO and Taggants:
Regards EPO and other medical drugs favored by athletes and coaches: EPO could be made with taggants (which is done with explosives in the USA) so that the taggant would show up where that lot of EPO was sold so that an investigation could ensue. This would also back up the testing in that the taggant might be easier to test for than EPO.
There is a Prescription to Street Black Market on many drugs and this may be the entry point of EPO onto the street market. Taggants would help track back to where the drug originated.
There are also numerous small chemical lab outfits willing to produce illicit drugs and new "Designer Drugs" for this Black Market (such as Balco); this will take money to trace and investigate... which is why I support monetary fines to support investigation

It may only be necessary to have this mechanism in place to change the risk/benefit of some to continue in cooperative rings to help or actively pursue doping riders and athletes... a life time ban as a Sports Physician, soigneur, team owner, official and coach would be a great dis-incentive to continue acting in this way. It would certainly change the current scene and give them a moment to pause before they act.
At the moment there seems to be little or no risk to these fellows; we could change this with a few additions to the UCI, Olympic and WADA code.

I believe the day we see not only the athlete penalized but the ring of enablers and have mechanisms such as these in place, we will see the creation of a new drug free era in all sport.
It can't happen too soon.
VT
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