Re-testing shows Harrison positive

New stimulant found in U.S. sprinter, perhaps six other Americans

Track And Field

October 26, 2003|By Alan Abrahamson | Alan Abrahamson,LOS ANGELES TIMES

LOS ANGELES - American sprinter Calvin Harrison, a gold medalist in the relays at the Sydney Olympic Games, tested positive this summer for the stimulant modafinil, sources said Friday, adding that at least six U.S. athletes might have tested positive for the same stimulant.

The positive testing for modafinil showed up in a re-examination of data collected after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency reviewed tests taken at the U.S. national track championships at Stanford in June and other summer meets after it learned of a new designer steroid, tetrahydrogestrinone (THG).

The new modafinil cases were disclosed as the International Olympic Committee said it would test for THG at the 2004 Games in Athens in August. Modafinil was added a few weeks ago to the list of banned performance-enhancing substances.

In announcing the discovery of THG last week, USADA's chief executive, Terry Madden, said a re-check of samples taken over the summer had also uncovered positive tests for modafinil, prescribed by doctors to treat patients with narcolepsy, a sleeping disorder.

"What we have uncovered appears to be intentional doping of the worst sort," he said then about the THG-positive tests, adding he knew of no other case "larger than this involving the number of athletes involved."

At the time, however, authorities knew of only five positive THG tests, four involving unidentified U.S. athletes and one involving Europe's fastest sprinter, Dwain Chambers.

The modafinil cases strengthen Madden's claim.

"Apparently, there's an epidemic among track athletes of narcolepsy in the United States," said a wry Arne Ljungqvist, anti-doping chief for the IOC and the IAAF, track and field's international governing body.

USADA has said it thinks the discovery and distribution of THG is tied to Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative in Burlingame, Calif. BALCO is the focus of a federal grand jury in San Francisco. The company's founder, Victor Conte, has denied wrongdoing.

The scope of the federal inquiry is unclear. Forty athletes have been subpoenaed to testify. On the list are baseball sluggers Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants and Jason Giambi of the New York Yankees, as well as boxer Shane Mosley and track standouts Kelli White, a sprinter, and Kevin Toth, a shot-putter. Those athletes might have been summoned simply to provide information.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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