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No THG in Salt Lake City samples

John Mehaffey | January 08, 2004 20:38 IST

No traces of THG (tetrahydrogestrinone) have been found in any re-tested samples from the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics confirming experts' belief that use of the new designer steroid has been restricted to a handful of athletes.

"These scientific findings are reassuring and confirm my initial gut feeling that THG was used on a limited scale," International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge said.

"Nevertheless, the IOC will remain vigilant and will continue to deploy all means and resources to fight against doping."

Urine samples from the Winter Games were re-tested after THG was discovered in a Los Angeles laboratory last year.

A man claiming to be an athletics coach had sent a syringe containing the substance to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

As a result all samples were re-tested from last year's athletics, swimming and rowing world championships but only two, both from the Paris world athletics championships, were positive.

The International Tennis Federation also reported no positives.

Five track and field athletes, including Britain's European 100 metres champion Dwain Chambers, have tested positive for THG. According to newspaper reports, four American footballers have also tested positive.

World Anti-Doping Agency chairman Dick Pound has described THG as a "dinosaur drug" which had already outlived its usefulness.

"This will make people thinking about doing this sort of thing think twice," he said. "We are only one step behind the cheats."

Jacques de Ceaurriz of the Paris laboratory said because a test had been found early any thought of a THG epidemic had disappeared.

"As soon as you have a test, the epidemic stops of its own accord," he said.

The IOC statement said the decision to re-test the Salt Lake City samples had been made last month after experts confirmed it was legally and scientifically possible to do so.

Several leading athletes, including triple Olympic champion Marion Jones and baseball slugger Barry Bonds, have testified before a U.S. grand jury investigating the BALCO laboratory which is believed to be the source of the drug.

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