NYTimes On Steriod Use In Sports

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/21/sports/othersports/21STER.html October 21, 2003 Scientist Suspects
    Many Athletes Are Using Undetected Steroids By MIKE FREEMAN

    Don Catlin, the scientist who identified a previously undetected steroid and oversaw tests
    indicating that as many as a half-dozen athletes in track and field had used the drug, said
    yesterday that he thought athletes were probably using similar unidentified drugs.

    Catlin, a molecular pharmacologist at U.C.L.A.'s Olympic Analytical Laboratory, led an eight-man
    team that identified the steroid tetrahydrogestrinone, or THG.

    The drug is at the center of an investigation that started in track and field but appears likely to
    involve dozens of other professional athletes. Forty have been called before a federal grand jury in
    San Francisco to investigate a sports nutrition company accused of creating the drug.

    Among them is Jason Giambi of the Yankees, who said yesterday that he had not done anything wrong
    and was only vaguely aware of the investigation.

    "There's not really much I know about it," Giambi said in Miami on an off day of the World Series.
    "The only thing I can do is wait until someone contacts me and see what they're looking for."

    The National Football League said last Friday that it would soon begin testing for THG, and other
    sports leagues were expected to follow its lead.

    Catlin said in a telephone interview that he had long believed that so-called designer steroids,
    which are manufactured artificially, were being used by athletes, but he had been unable to prove
    his suspicions. Catlin said the discovery that track and field athletes were using THG was the first
    documented evidence that such a designer drug exists.

    Among his concerns, Catlin said, is that chemists create steroids and sell them to athletes without
    first conducting tests for safety.

    Some of these drugs, he said, could be harmful, as are more traditional steroids.

    "What is terribly disconcerting is that there are people out there creating these things, and
    athletes are taking them based on someone's word, without any kind of testing," Catlin said. "It's a
    horrible situation. Athletes don't know what can happen when they ingest them.

    "We have no idea how long THG has been in use. Athletes may have been using it for months or even
    years. Are there more drugs like it out there? My instincts tell me yes. We really don't know how
    many athletes are using designer steroids, but things will become clear in the coming months."

    Among the questions being pursued by federal investigators in California is who created THG and who
    profited from its sales. An American anti-doping official, in announcing the discovery of THG last
    week, said he was "fairly certain" that the drug came from Victor Conte, the owner of the Bay Area
    Laboratory Co-Operative, or Balco, which manufacturers nutritional supplements.

    Conte denied being the source of the drug and said there was no proof that it was a steroid.

    Conte told The San Francisco Chronicle over the weekend that five baseball players and seven
    football players were among the athletes who had been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand
    jury in San Francisco.

    Conte did not respond yesterday to an e-mail inquiry.

    In early September, agents for the Internal Revenue Service and a San Mateo County narcotics task
    force raided the offices of Balco, whose clients include Oakland Raiders linebacker Bill
    Romanowski and the Olympic sprinter Marion Jones, according to several reports in the Northern
    California news media.

    Barry Bonds of the Giants and the world-class sprinter Kelli White were among those asked to
    testify, The Chronicle reported.

    The inquiry began after the United States Anti-Doping Agency, an independent testing agency,
    received a syringe from an anonymous coach, who said it contained an illegal performance-enhancing
    substance.

    After Catlin's laboratory identified the drug as THG and developed a test for it, samples taken
    earlier this year from track athletes were retested for THG. As many as six tested positive.

    "It was a lot of work," Catlin said of the painstaking chemical detection effort. "You have to get
    the exact molecular structure. When we discovered that it was a steroid, it was not, `Eureka!' It's
    just, `Aha.'

    "What is satisfying is that we were able to find this drug. Hopefully, all of the attention on this
    problem will deter anyone in the future from trying to create what I think are highly dangerous
    substances."

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