Designer Steroid Detected Among Top Athletes||
A budding steroid scandal may lead to the downfall of some of the world's top
athletes and to policy changes among prominent sports organizations.
versions: HTML / PDF
A new steroid, designed to go undetected in drug screens, has been found in the
urine samples of several prominent U.S. and international athletes. |
States Anti-Doping Agency, the agency that monitors drug testing for U.S. Olympic
athletes, has refused to name the American athletes who have tested positive.
a grand jury investigating the company accused of manufacturing the drug has heard
from stars like sprinter Marion Jones and baseball players Jason Giambi and Barry
Bonds, who were subpoenaed to testify as witnesses.
Because steroids, illegal
performance-enhancing drugs, are banned by most athletic organizations because
they provide athletes who use them an unfair physical advantage, the discovery
could put a stain on the careers of some of the sport world's top athletes, including
lifetime bans from competition and dismissal from future Olympic Games.
the drug was discovered|
Officials may never have
discovered the drug had one coach not blown the whistle.
In June someone
anonymously sent a vial of clear liquid to the Olympic drug testing laboratory
at the University of California at Los Angeles and suggested that chemists test
the liquid for an undetectable steroid.
After months of tests, the lab discovered
the steroid tetrahydrogestrinone, or THG, in the liquid. According to UCLA chemists,
the drug had been specifically designed to go undetected. The chemists then developed
a test for the drug and worked with Anti-Doping officials to begin testing past
urine samples of various athletes. According to officials, "several"
athletes have tested positive.
we have uncovered appears to be intentional doping of the worst sort," USADA
head Terry Madden told the BBC.
"This is a conspiracy involving chemists,
coaches and certain athletes using what they developed to be undetectable designer
steroids," he said.
Officials believe the steroid was developed and
distributed by the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative, a company also known as BALCO
that normally provides nutritional supplements and vitamins to athletes. Though
the company's president has denied creating such a drug, the federal Food and
Drug Administration, and the IRS investigating the company for tax evasion, raided
the company's offices in September.
use of steroids among athletes|
The use of steroids has caused trouble for some of the world's best athletes
in the past. In 1998, at the height of his bid for the homerun record, baseball
star Mark McGwire admitted to using the muscle-enhancing steroid Androstenedione,
a drug banned by the NFL and the Olympics but not by major league baseball.
1988, Olympic officials stripped Canadian runner Ben Johnson of his gold medal
and world record at the games in Seoul, Korea, after he tested positive for steroids.
Johnson was banned from competition for life.
at the Olympic lab at UCLA told The New York Times that the probability that athletes
are still using other undetectable designer steroids is high.
might be the tip of the iceberg," said Dr. Caroline Hatton, a chemist at
the lab. We hope to learn more in a few days, weeks, months. We're a little afraid
of what we don't know and may never learn."
Following the discovery
of THG, several athletic organizations have taken steps to discourage their athletes
from taking the drug. The International Olympic Committee added THG to their list
of banned substances and warned that they will test for the drug at the 2004 Athens
Games; USA Track & Field officials have proposed a plan that would place a
lifetime ban and a fine of up to $100,000 on any athlete who tests positive for
steroids; and International Ski Federation officials and Rugby World Cup officials
have said they will test competitors in the coming season, according to the Associated
Congress Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) and Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch have
introduced joint legislation that would make THG and Androstenedione illegal under
the federal Controlled Substances Act.
A grand jury meeting in San Francisco
will continue to question athletes as it tries to decide whether to bring charges
Kristina Nwazota, Online NewsHour