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Arnold Indicted
2005-11-08 12:37
by Will Carroll

In the world of bodybuilding and nutritional supplements, there's still only one Arnold. There is however another one, Patrick Arnold, who keeps coming up in conversations, discussions, and now, indictments. Victor Conte mentioned him and how Arnold allegedly supplied him with THG, a heretofor uncreated steroid-like compound, that Conte then distributed to athletes.

Arnold may be best known now for THG or for his other supplements at his well-known companies. If you wander around the steroid underground, Arnold, in his various guises screen names, is often in the heat of discussion, often with other chemists and supplement researchers. If you imagine Bill James walking into a room full of SABR members, you'll understand how many in the bodybuilding world think of the man referenced as just "PA." [Note: I changed the wording in this paragraph because someone thought I was saying that Arnold was hiding himself. That would be disguises. Arnold, like most people, uses a "handle" on various message boards. Trust me, people know when he's in the room.]

The BALCO case has focused on Arnold for quite a while and the recent indictment shows just how weak the case is. He is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. Assuming they can prove that the facts as laid out by Conte in his statements are true - and would you want to build a case on Conte's credibility? - then you have to admit that THG was not a controlled substance at the time. There was no catch-all language in the Anabolic Steroid Control Act, as was added in 2005.

If Arnold created THG, if he sold it to Conte, and if THG is an effective steroid - all things that could be argued, some more than others - there's still no way to connect Arnold to the distribution. Certainly, you could argue that Arnold was selling to a middleman who's sole purpose was to distribute and that sale itself was distribution. I'll leave that to the lawyers.

I'll remind people that Arnold was also the mastermind behind androstendione, the substance that was legally used by Mark McGwire and hundreds of others. Andro's dubious efficacy had left it at the side of the road for bodybuilders, but it led to other pro-hormones and hormone precursors. Between andro and THG, Arnold has certainly left his mark on baseball, allegedly.

The indictment means that BALCO will continue to be the focus of the government's case against steroids and that the focus will continue to shine on baseball. In the face of the Bunning-McCain bill -- one that holds the specter of the "non-analytic positive" in its wording, more on that soon -- BALCO continues to be a marketing machine. It still sells its products - yes, thats Bonds on it's home page with two men headed to jail - and Conte is getting six figures for book deals and being the mastermind behind the continued ESPN coverage of the steroid era.

Breaking BALCO -- which this has thus far failed to do - doesn't address the other five to ten organizations and clubs that do the same thing BALCO did. They test athletes for supplementation using standard lab tests, then sell both valid nutritional supplements and (knowingly or unknowingly) increase the results with steroids. Arnold is not the only chemist that can make THG. He's not the only chemist smart enough to find the next steroid and market it. He's not even the man that formulated "the cream," the other BALCO-supplied performance-enhancer.

Naming names and indictments haven't slowed the problem. Sitting at a table with Rick Collins, Tracy Ollrich, and Denise Garibaldi showed me that there is a middle ground, one where we can solve the problem. My next article, likely at, will talk more about this.

There are some specific questions that I will not be able to answer if asked about this story. Prepare for some "no comments."

2005-11-09 17:12:16
1.   thewebb
Holy cow, the steroid article out on from the magazine is sure interesting. Any thoughts on this?
2005-11-10 09:20:57
2.   jgpyke
Yes, ESPN put together over 19,000 words in the article. The silence here is odd, considering the name and all.
2005-11-10 12:24:11
3.   Will Carroll
I think the article series works well as a retrospective. I don't see much new there. We knew about Wentzlaff, the Phillies, the Vincent memo. What is new - the spurious Florie allegations, the Joyner 'confession' - doesn't really advance the discussion. I think it's well written, well researched, and covers roughly the same ground that Howard Bryant did six months ago in "Juicing The Game."

All that said, I'll steal McGwire's line - I'm not here to talk about the past. I can't change it. We can change the future.

2005-11-11 10:04:42
4.   jgpyke
Thanks for the comment, Will. That's all I was looking for--your quick and dirty take on a major publication from "the biggest name in sports." Was surprised it hadn't garnered a mention before, that's all.

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