January 31, 2005

Doping News Update

I haven't talked about doping much lately, so I figure that it's time for an update on the latest developments. You can think of this as an update to my previous entry Doping News (November 16, 2004).


In the it-would-be-funny-if-it-weren't-so-sad department, this Reuters story outlines the who's who of recent doping allegations in track and field. Here are the latest news stories on each case.

  • Greek sprinters Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou have officially been charged with faking their motorcycle accident on the eve of the Athens Olympics. This week, they also testified at a hearing to investigate doping tests that they missed in Athens, Tel Aviv, and Chicago. The Telegraph is reporting that Kenteris has admitted missing the Tel Aviv test, but is disputing the other two allegations. The two athletes, and their lawyer, are still hoping to escape sanctions.
  • Chryste Gains and Tim Montgomery are still awaiting their appeal hearings at CAS, scheduled for June.
  • Michelle Collins, former world indoor champion at 200 m, has been suspended for eight years by USADA based on evidence unearthed in the BALCO case. Collins has not admitted to illegal drug use and has not had a positive test. She will also appeal to CAS.
  • Speaking of BALCO, Marion Jones is suing Victor Conte for defamation, seeking $25M in damages. Conte, in his interview on 20/20 and elsewhere, has stated in no uncertain terms that he helped Jones administer an extensive regime of illegal performance-enhancing substances leading up to the 2000 summer Olympics (see also Victor Conte on 20/20, December 9, 2004). He has also stated that he saw her inject herself with BALCO's designer steroid 'the clear.' Conte, in response to the suit, has hired himself a high-powered lawyer.

Obviously I don't have any insider information on the Marion Jones case, but I think she is in serious trouble here and will not escape. In addition to Conte's detailed allegations, former husband C. J. Hunter has stated that he saw her use illegal substances in the lead-up to the 2000 Olympics. There is also the damaging association with Montgomery. The IOC itself has now launched an investigation into the allegations against Jones, and Dick Pound at WADA is out to get her.

As for Conte's allegations, I have a hard time seeing what his motivation is to lie. Although the statements against Jones have given him a lot of publicity, that can't be his only interest. After all, he has had plenty of opportunities to directly implicate Barry Bonds, but has refrained from doing so, saying only that he provided illegal substances to Bonds' trainer. Any direct evidence against baseball's home-run king would surely have made an even bigger splash than the allegations against Jones, at least in the American press.


Cycling continues to build its reputation as a dirty sport, at least among the pros on the road race circuit. In December, Olympic time trial gold medallist Tyler Hamilton escaped his positive blood doping test on a technicality. Hamilton's A sample allegedly showed signs of a blood transfusion, which is a no-no. Fortunately for Tyler, his B sample was frozen before it was tested, which means that he can't be punished for a doping offense and will keep his gold medal. Greek prosecutors are pressing criminal charges against the testing laboratory for allegedly destroying the sample. Dick Pound of WADA (see also Dick Pound Stays On At WADA, November 20, 2004) told VeloNews that Hamilton "dodged a bullet" at the Olympics, but he will still face a two-year ban for being caught blood doping at the Vuelta in September. Hamilton vehemently denies the charges and claims that the new blood doping test is unreliable.

Meanwhile, French authorities have opened an inquiry into doping allegations against 2000 Olympic cycling time trial bronze medallist and six-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. The allegations were made by Armstrong's former assistant, Emma O'Reilly, in a book that was released just before the 2004 Tour. Like Hamilton, Armstrong has vehemently denied the allegations.

Personally, I will be very disappointed if the persistent doping allegations against Armstrong turn out to be true. I am a big fan and I find myself wanting to believe that he is clean.

One odd note about the book, incidentally. It is available in French on Amazon.fr, and in English on Amazon.ca, but is not available on either Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk. I am not sure what to make of that, but the English version is ranked 100,500 on the Amazon.ca sales list, so perhaps there is not enough demand to support an Amazon offering in England or the US. The French version got lukewarm reader reviews.

Other Sports

Finally, an update on the horse doping story. Goldfever and his rider have been disqualified for using a banned substance, although clearly the horse is an innocent bystander in this case. Germany will have their 2004 Olympic gold medal in team show jumping downgraded to bronze after Goldfever's results are stricken from the record. The U.S. will be promoted to the gold.

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