FINA To Test for Designer Steroid THG -- November 5, 2003
LAUSANNE, November 5. AFTER several days of deliberation, FINA -- swimming's international governing body -- has decided to retest all samples taken from the World Championships for the new designer steroid THG.
The welcome announcement that all 312 urine samples collected from the swimming, diving, synchronized swimming, water polo and open water competitions in Barcelona will undergo tests for tetrahydrogestrinone (THG) was made this morning.
Cornel Marculescu, FINA's Executive Director, said the organization made its decision to retest on the advice of its legal and doping experts.
The sports world learned of the previously undetectable steroid in October
when an unidentified American track and field coach provided the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) with the names of U.S. and international athletes who, he said, were using THG to improve their performance.
The IOC-accredited laboratory in Los Angeles quickly identified the substance and developed a test for it. Within days, details of the test were transmitted to all 30 IOC-accredited laboratories around the world.
Five American track and field athletes tested positive following a review of urine samples provided at the U.S. national championships in June.
Britain's European sprint champion Dwain Chambers has also admitted to testing positive for THG though the sprinter insisted he did not knowingly take a banned substance. Other athletes, mainly in the American professional sports of baseball and football, have also been linked with the drug.
Thus far, only the governing bodies for swimming (FINA) and track and field (IAAF) have indicated they will retest for THG, though other sports have said they are looking into that possibility.
In the US, even some of the pro sports have indicated they will test for THG, though the penalties for a positive test in these sports are extremely light.
However, not all governing bodies are following the lead of these two sports. Soccer's governing body, FIFA, announced it will not re-examine urine samples. This is consistent with soccer's opposition to even the two-year ban, upon which the IOC has insisted. FIFA's Sports Medicine Committee said the organization had decided not to carry out retrospective tests, citing legal reasons as well as the fact samples are currently destroyed after 30 days in accordance with FIFA's doping control regulations.