Athletics: Eight-year ban given to Collins for 'pattern of doping'

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The Independent Online

Michelle Collins, who won the world athletics indoor 200 metres for the United States last year, was yesterday suspended for eight years despite the fact that she has never tested positive or admitted doping violations.

Michelle Collins, who won the world athletics indoor 200 metres for the United States last year, was yesterday suspended for eight years despite the fact that she has never tested positive or admitted doping violations.

The 33-year-old sprinter received what is effectively a life ban after the US Anti Doping Agency concluded that she had used various performance-enhancing substances allegedly provided by the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative at the centre of a federal enquiry.

Working on patterns observed from recent blood and urine tests Collins had had, as well as documents seized from Balco by federal prosecutors and statements made by Balco officials, USADA said that she had "engaged in a pattern of doping involving multiple drugs over a substantial period of time, during which she engaged and succeeded in many competitions." The statement added: "The steroids she took, such as THG, and the complex timing of her doping were designed, even more than the usual doping offences, not to be detected."

Among the documents reviewed in Collins' arbitration were emails Collins sent to Balco owner Victor Conte, including one in which she asked whether she could use a testosterone gel with a cream she already had. "Do not use the testosterone gel," Conte responded. "It will cause a positive result by elevating the [testosterone/epitestosterone] ratio... You are already getting what you need from the cream, which will not elevate the ratio and you know why."

The arbitrators' ruling said Collins did not contest the authenticity of the messages, but her attorney argued that there was no evidence to prove she had sent them.

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