Web of drug deceit
October 20, 2005
AUSTRALIAN sports chiefs yesterday renewed their warning to athletes to stay clear of dietary supplements after five new designer anabolic steroids were found in products targeted at the sports community.
Professor Peter Fricker, director of the Australian Institute of Sport, said athletes "can never assume any supplement is safe".
The five supplements easily available for sale over the internet boasted they could build bigger muscles rapidly.
All were listed as nutritional food supplements, all claimed to be legal and all have now been identified in analytical tests as banned performance-enhancing substances.
"They are all steroids. They are all going to be effective," said Don Catlin, the director of the US Olympic drug testing laboratory at UCLA.
Catlin was the man who identified testrahydrogestrinone (THG) and norbolethone, the two designer steroids associated with BALCO, the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative run out of California by Victor Conte.
Conte this week arranged a plea-bargain over his role in the BALCO drug supplying scandal, which sank the careers of 2003 world 100m and 200m sprint champion Kelli White, European 100m recordholder Dwain Chambers and several other world-class athletes, baseballers and footballers.
Conte will serve four months in prison and a further four months home detention starting from today.
Catlin said four of the designer steroids had never been seen before while a fifth was identified only two years ago. All bore a structural resemblance to THG. The products in question are Superdrol, Prostanozol and Ergomax LMG, Methyl 1-P and FiniGenX Magnum Liquid.
The profiles for the new steroids have been passed on to the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Fricker told The Daily Telegraph
yesterday: "It just reinforces our concern there are supplements out there that contain banned substances and everyone has to recognise that the testing these days is so sensitive for a whole range of anabolic steroids that you can't assume the risks.
"Despite what manufacturers might say, and reassurances from the suppliers, athletes should be warned you can never assume anything, never assume supplements are safe.
"If someone wants to get advice on a supplement they should telephone the Australian Sports Drug Agency in Canberra or go to the AIS website and follow the links to nutrition and refer to the fact sheets on supplements."
Fricker said the testing methodology was constantly improving "and being updated day to day".
John Coates, president of the Australian Olympic Committee, said yesterday the AOC still maintains a warning to athletes against taking sports supplements "because you don't know what's in them".
"Once you test positive, you're gone," Coates said.