Athletics: Sprinter Chambers' career hangs on delayed result of drugs test

Drugs in sport

The European 100m champion, Dwain Chambers, must wait a while longer to hear whether a B sample test will clear him of being a drugs cheat.

Chambers provided a positive result for the new designer steroid tetrahydrogest- rinone (THG) after an out-of-competition test on 1 August.

It is believed Chambers' B sample was tested earlier this week and a decision on the results was expected from the University of California laboratory in Los Angeles yesterday - but so far nothing has been forthcoming.

The punishment for being found guilty of testing positive for a banned substance is a minimum ban of two years. But the 25-year-old could face a life ban if it is felt there was a conspiracy with others to cheat the system.

Chambers has constantly protested his innocence but is well aware that a guilty verdict would virtually signal the end of his sprinting career.

Under the guidelines of the British Olympic Association's anti-drugs stance, Chambers would never again be allowed to compete for his country in the Olympics.

If found guilty, Chambers can expect no sympathy from the International Association of Athletics Federations, which has totally co-operated with the United States Anti-Doping Agency since it received a syringe from a well known American coach containing the ingredients of what was then an undetectable substance, later identified as THG.

Immediately it sent testing officers to athletes identified by USADA as likely users of the illegal substance - including Chambers, who produced a positive sample when he was visited at a training camp in Saarbrücken, Germany.

The IAAF also passed further out-of-competition samples to the University of California, which had patented a successful THG testing procedure prior to August's World Championships. The IAAF president, Lamine Diack, said: "USADA must take enormous credit for its investigation into THG. We are grateful that the USADA shared the information with us at the early stage they did and for the opportunity to work closely with them since late July in casting the net as widely as possible to catch those involved."

THG is included on the International Olympic Committee's list of banned substances, the IOC and the World Anti-Doping Agency said yesterday.

The organisations said in a joint statement that THG is a steroid covered by the present banned list as well as the recently approved list for 2004. The statement noted that gestrinone is included by name on the present list of banned anabolic steroids.

"THG, which has a similar chemical structure, therefore must be considered as an analogue and as a consequence is a prohibited substance," the statement said.

The UCLA doping control laboratory identified the drug as a steroid which had been deliberately modified to evade detection.

After the laboratory devised a test for THG, the US agency ordered the retesting of samples from the national track championships at Stanford, California, in June.

A California-based sports nutrition company which was cited as the source of the drug is under investigation by a federal grand jury.

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