Catlin: Olympics bring out most extreme cases

Updated: July 29, 2004, 7:12 PM ET
Associated Press

The chemist who unmasked the steroid THG last year says similar drugs might be in circulation, and that the Athens Olympics could spur athletes to use such performance-enhancing substances.

"The Olympics is a time when people risk it all," said Don Catlin, head of the anti-doping lab at UCLA. "I've seen for many, many years how the Olympics brings out new drugs and new techniques."

Catlin said in a conference call Wednesday that "hundreds or thousands" of steroids created by drug companies in the 1960s and 1970s could be turned into performance-enhancing substances.

"Athletes are serving as guinea pigs," he said.

Terry Madden, head of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, said on the conference call that "there are designer steroids out there."

"There is doping going on in every sport in every country in the world," Madden said. "Every country has its doping issues. It's a battle we're in."

Meanwhile, the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency reiterated Thursday that officials are "in the final stages of making sure there is a clear scientific consensus" about a test for human growth hormone.

"Rather than rush and make some announcement prior to Athens, I'd rather make sure that we are certain about this before we go ahead," Dick Pound said in a telephone interview. "As always, I have no compunction about putting a test into place without advising anybody that we're about to do it. Anybody using hGH knows it's a prohibited substance.

"There is and will be (a test), the question is when is it going to be effective enough that we would have the necessary level of confidence," Pound said.

If such a test is not ready in time for the Olympics, he added, officials plan to save athletes' samples that can be tested retroactively.

Researchers at the University of Southampton in Britain said this week they have developed a test for hGH.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press