COLORADO SPRINGS, December 31. THE U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) announced yesterday that track and field sprint champion Kelli White and six other American athletes have tested positive for banned, performance-enhancing substances. It was a fitting end to a drug-tainted year in sports.
White and five other track and field athletes tested positive for the banned stimulant modafinil.
Hammer-thrower John McEwen tested positive for modafinil plus the newly discovered steroid THG, and cyclist Adham Sbeih became the first U.S. athlete to test positive for the endurance-boosting hormone EPO.
The USOC announced the test results after the substances were found in two urine tests from each athlete, and after a review by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
All seven are challenging their test results, the USOC said in a news release from its base in Colorado Springs, Colo. Any suspensions or other penalties would come after an arbitration process.
Recently, the validity of the IOC-approved EPO test has been challenged, both by athletes and scientists, and there is speculation that it might not stand up to scientific review. Ironically, the IOC has failed to develop and utilize a much more accurate test that was first proposed in 1995.
White, 26, already faces the loss of two World Championship gold medals because of modafinil use. The USOC said yesterday that White also tested positive for modafinil at the USAT&F National Championships in June, when she swept the 100 and 200 meters. White said she was prescribed modafinil for a sleeping disorder — a claim ridiculed by international track officials after word emerged of other athletes using the banned stimulant.
Also testing positive for modafinil at the U.S. championships were sprinter Chryste Gaines and hurdlers Sandra Glover and Eric Thomas. Another hurdler, Chris Phillips, tested positive for modafinil at the World Championships.
Modafinil use results in disqualification at the event at which a positive test has occurred, but no suspension. THG use can lead to a two-year ban. Sbeih, who tested positive for EPO at the USA Cycling National Championships in August, faces up to a two-year ban.
White and Gaines are coached by Remy Korchemny, who also coaches British sprinter Dwain Chambers, now facing a two-year suspension for THG. Phillips said Korchemny gave him a modafinil pill at the Worlds to help him overcome jet lag.
At least five track and field athletes — including McEwen and Chambers — have tested positive for THG, and a source who requested anonymity has told The Associated Press that four NFL Oakland Raiders also flunked THG tests.
The discovery of THG led to an ongoing grand jury probe in San Francisco. High profile athletes from several sports — including swimmer Amy Van Dyken and baseball players Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi — already have appeared before the panel.